TL/DR: As a previous customer, I retained First Choice Fence in April of last year to complete a picket fence around the front of my home. Unfortunately, between the time I provided a deposit and the anticipated start date, a couple of unforeseen events occurred that eliminated any budget I had for the project. As of this writing (June 2023), First Choice Fence has not returned my deposit of $220.35.
I had previously hired First Choice Fence in 2013 and 2014 and in both instances, I posted a glowing review of their work here on Homestars.
When I wanted a new front fence for my home, I didn't hesitate to get in touch with them. Given what ended up happening, I really wish I hadn't. Dealing with First Choice Fence proved to be an awful experience this time around.
When I met with Pratema in mid-April 2022 to do measurements for the new fence, I informed her that I had scheduled some substantial mortar repairs and external waterproofing along the front of my house. I gave Pratema a 5% deposit and indicated that we could target the installation of the fence some time in June, with the specific start date to be determined closer to the time.
But after Pratema and I met, two substantive events happened in the ensuing three weeks which completely altered my financial landscape. The first was that my 2021 tax payment was revised to substantially more than anticipated. Additionally, my neighbor notified me that the west side of my home (not viewable from the street but from the upper floor of their house) had lost a great deal of its shingles. When I finally got a look it was clear the roof needed to be repaired asap. These two events had to take financial priority and the fence job could not proceed.
I sent Pratema a text on May 18th explaining exactly what had happened. I got no response. I then texted again June 6. I got no response. In another two weeks I called Pratema directly to ask if she had gotten my texts and when could I expect a refund? Pratema then started into a speech about how she had explained to me that the deposit would be applied in future when the job was done. I pointed out that she had never indicated this verbally or in any of the documentation she provided and that a fence was something that I could only entertain years from now.
Pratema reluctantly agreed to send me a cheque in the mail (she wouldnt send an e-Transfer.) Needless to say, the cheque never arrived. I then followed up again in September to ask for an ETA on the cheque. Pratema then indicated that she was only refunding me because Id been a previous customer. Frankly, if this is how previous customers are treated, good luck if you're new.
In the negative reviews First Choice Fence has received you will note a common theme: if its not a straightforward situation or something that Pratema doesn't want to deal with, she simply doesn't.
I remain genuinely confused as to why First Choice Fence has dealt with me in this manner. The last two times I hired Pratema I made my driveway and the facilities of my home available and paid promptly. In fact, if she had wanted to deduct an amount from the deposit for coming down and taking measurements, that is something I would have understood. Instead, I was continually ignored and when I did talk with Pratema it was just an exercise in obfuscation. The mistake I made was that I kept letting time pass, kept giving First Choice Fence continued chances to do the right thing when clearly there was no intention of doing so.
Practically speaking, it would have cost me more than my original deposit to pursue a legal resolution and there comes a time where dwelling on a negative situation simply isnt worth it. But I realized that what I can do is let people know what happened to me so they can make an informed decision.
I will not be working with First Choice Fence again, nor recommending them to others. Clearly, my repeat business is not valued. And like everyone else who is experiencing their own financial headwinds in these challenging economic times, I find it appalling that First Choice Fence thinks its okay to keep money given to them for work that was not performed.