The exterior paint job was complete, but not at a professional
Gilroy – When a painter from Salinas approached Juanita Gallo about her house, she looked at the chipped exterior, scanned the other houses on Dowdy Street, and accepted the offer. The 78-year-old lost her husband more than 10 years ago and had a series of knee surgeries that prevented her from keeping up with repairs.
Gallo wrote the painter three checks over a three day period last month amounting to $4,000 – $1,500 more than she was initially quoted.
He and his crew worked Labor Day and the day after, and never returned to completely finish the job or explain the price increase.
At first his excuses seemed reasonable: The paint had to dry. Then they became personal: His grandmother died. His wife was in the hospital. Finally, the excuses were effortless – he was just down the street, he’d be right there, he had a flat tire.
Eventually, when Gallo tried calling him she found the number was disconnected.
“I was trying to be nice and give him a little space,” she said. “Then when he didn’t return my phone calls, after that, I was sure it was a scam.”
The painter went by the name Dino P. Price and claimed to be from Salinas.
There is no one by that name registered with the Salinas Chamber of Commerce.
The license Price showed Gallo had expired in June. It was made out to another individual. Price accounted for the difference, saying that he had taken over his dead father’s painting business.
“I was alert enough to see the license. I didn’t know it wasn’t legal,” Gallo said. “I hear on the television that they take advantage of older people. But I didn’t even suspect … He knew what he was doing.”
If residents have any doubts about their contractor, they should contact the Contractors State License Board.
She believes he approached her house because “it was the worst house on the block,” and that he saw an opportunity when he realized she lives on her own.
A list of unfinished items lies on her kitchen table: The porch, door and window frames were never painted. The windows of her one-story home need to be scraped and screens replaced.
The exterior painting job was completed – but not at a professional level, Gallo said.
Price and his crew left buckets of painting materials in her backyard and never came to collect them.
“The yard was a mess. He was supposed to come back with a trailer,” Gallo said.
While Gallo is upset she was scammed, she is able to talk about the experience with a faint smile.
“It’s a hard thing to lose $4,000 out of your bank account,” she said. “I just hope I save somebody else. (In the future) I’ll be extra careful for sure.”
Gallo described Price as possibly of Portuguese descent, 30s, about 5’10, and slim.
Anyone with complaints can send them to the Sacramento SWIFT Unit, P. O. Box 269117, Sacramento, CA 95826-9117, call (916) 255-2924, FAX (916) 369-7265, or visit http://www.cslb.ca.gov.