A Mississauga man is speaking out after what he thought would be a routine home repair turned into a year-long financial nightmare.
Afftab Pervaiz says he gave thousands of dollars to a private contractor up front to switch out his windows, a process he thought would take at the most two months. But the repairs never happened.
And it wasn't just any contractor who was working on his house. It was his neighbour, Terry Surette, who was living across the street doing renovations as a contractor.
"I thought, 'OK, seems like somebody that's here all the time...Here's a person I see, I trusted him in that sense," Pervaiz told CBC Toronto.
"He would come and point that out... when are you going to get your windows done? You're getting water damage," Pervaiz said of Surette.
Weeks turned to months
So when Surette said he needed $10,000 up front, Pervaiz paid it, saying he's know it's common in the contracting business to pay for supplies in advance of work.
Besides, Pervaiz says he provided a lot of details about the work that others did not provide.
CBC Toronto tried repeatedly to reach Surette for comment on this story. He did not reply.
Pervaiz says everything was laid out in a contract that specifically highlighted a price breakdown and the services being provided.
The windows were supposed to come in six to eight weeks.
"But then it was, 'Oh, there's a delay, windows aren't ready."
Several more weeks went by. And then the weeks turned into months.
So Pervaiz decided to contact Global Windows in Toronto, the company from which Surette apparently ordered the supplies. He says he learned then that there was never an order placed for the windows.
"Basically it was lies. There was never going to be a delivery of goods at all," Pervaiz said.
'A face that looked honest'
Once winter came, Pervaiz he had enough and asked Surette for his money back.
But then came more excuses.
"Oh maybe I'll find some money. I don't have any money for you. People owe me money," he said Surette told him.
"It was disheartening," said Pervaiz. "I said, 'You've been in my home and you came in with a face that looked honest… and here you're telling me, you don't have the money, my windows were never ordered… You're actually doing this to people?"
In December, Pervaiz decided to file a lawsuit against Surette, a process that cost more money.
Meanwhile Surette said he was travelling in Alberta, saying he was out in Fort McMurray, an area still reeling from the devastation of a major wildfire.
That had Pervaiz worried about other people potentially being preyed on.
Pervaiz decided against filing a police report because he says he was told the onus would be on him to prove that he had been a victim. At most, he says, Surette might be convicted of something, but he still wouldn't have his money back
"I think what's key here is that, regardless of if you have a solid contract with all the terms and conditions, you have to have something that secures any cash… So maybe the best thing here is, until you come and provide me either the goods to my home, at which point I will pay you… or if you fail to provide them, then I don't."
Experience has left him rattled
Pervaiz is now waiting for a decision from small claims court, hoping to get his money back. He is also trying to stop others from going through the same experience. He says he has since heard from Surette, who told him that he has received legal documents that were sent to him.
But the whole experience has left him rattled, he says.
For a person who says he never provides payment up front for anything, he said took a risk, thinking he was safe because Surette was someone he knew.
"You don't really always know people even if you think you know who they are."