Bonney Plumbing, one of Sacramento’s best-known contractors, has been fined $12,000 but avoided losing its business licenses after state officials filed complaints that it had overcharged a group of customers.
The Contractors State License Board agreed to the settlement with Bonney over a series of charges that could have led to the revocation or suspension of the company’s three contractors’ licenses, plus the license of co-founder Mark Bonney.
The CSLB filed an accusation after receiving complaints of overcharging, failing to pull required permits and misrepresenting work. The complaints took place in 2012 and 2013, when the company was run by Mark Bonney. Bonney and his wife, Candace, sold a share of the business in 2012 to Jimmy Crabbe, a former UPS executive, who is now the plumbing contractor’s chief executive.
The agency has agreed not to revoke Bonney’s licenses. Instead, the contractors board has agreed to issue six citations with a fine of $12,000. In addition, when someone looks up Bonney’s license in state records for the next five years, the citations will be disclosed.
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The contractors board’s charges revolve around four customers, all in their 80s and 90s.
In one example, the state said Margorie McCandless, 94, of Sacramento was dramatically overcharged for a new water heater, drain and other products during two service calls in 2012. She paid a total of $6,191 for the work; the state’s expert witness said the goods and services were probably worth about $2,400.
State officials said Bonney representatives misled Vacaville resident Leonard Granger, 80, about county and city code requirements on a pair of projects for which he paid a total of $3,832 in late 2012 and early 2013. The charges included $313 for two permits that Bonney failed to obtain from the city of Dixon and Solano County.
Bonney also failed to obtain the necessary permits for McCandless and two other elderly customers, Alice Prewett of Roseville and Mary Byers of Sacramento, according to the state. Prewett had agreed to pay $6,016 for a new sewer line and other work, and was being advised to spend another $2,500 for additional repairs, but all work was halted after her son questioned the price.
“We are pleased that Bonney’s new owners addressed this matter promptly,” said CSLB Registrar Cindi A. Christenson. “The company has agreed to provide restitution for financially injured customers, and develop a series of business plans to avoid the potential for future contracting law violations.”
Also as a part of the settlement, the CSLB will have increased authority to review Bonney contracts.
In a prepared statement, the company said it acted with “no malicious intent” and didn’t set out to overcharge anyone or fail to pull permits.
Crabbe said in an interview that the company’s failure to pull permits was a result of a huge runup in sales. “We had outgrown the structure that we had,” he said. Bonney has overhauled its internal systems to make sure that required permits are pulled, he said.
As for accusations of charging customers too much, Crabbe said: “We never felt like we were overcharging.” If a customer complains about pricing, the company will review the situation and make refunds if appropriate, he said.
He said the accusations represented a tiny slice of Bonney’s customer base. “We have a customer satisfaction rate of 87 percent, which tells us we’re doing something right,” he said.
The 37-year-old company is well-known in the community and raised its profile even more last year by acquiring the naming rights to Sacramento Republic FC’s soccer stadium at Cal Expo.
Call The Bee’s Bill Lindelof, (916) 321-1079.