A COUPLE have been left more than £12,000 out of pocket after a company they paid to build them a conservatory disappeared without doing the work.
Jeffrey and Monica Freedman of Crosby Road, Westcliff, have lost out as a result of the closure of Benfleet-based double-glazing firm Tujon.
The company was trading from a shop in Benfleet High Road, which is now closed, with a sign on the window directing customers to a phone number with an answering machine.
Out of pocket: Jeff Freedman
The couple paid a £4,360 deposit in November as a downpayment on a £21,800 conservatory behind their house.
They were then asked to stump up another £7,600 when groundworks started on February 21.
Eyesore: what the Freedman's got for £12,000
Since then, the builders have not been back and Mr Freedman, 71, is worried he may lose the money he has paid out.
He explained: “I wanted to make the payment on my credit card, as it gives you some protection, but they insisted it had to be a bank transfer.
“They said their machine for taking card payments wasn’t working. Eventually, I reluctantly agreed.
“On the Friday they came and ripped up our decking and moved a garden shed to create the base for the conservatory.”
Closed: Tujon's offices
When the builders never came back, Mr Freedman tried calling several different phone numbers, but got no joy.
Mr Freedman and his wife then headed to the company’s Benfleet office.
He said: “When we got there, it was all shut up.
“A sign said they had moved, but there was no new address, and the contact number just goes to answerphone.
“Our garden is now in a terrible state, with all the old decking piled up. For £12,000, we have nothing.”
No forwarding address: sign in window
Tujon’s website is no longer working and the Echo has since learned a county court judgement claiming £3,778 was lodged against it on January 23. This remains outstanding.
It is not clear howmany clients have been affected, but Mr Freedman, said one local builder had told him he knew of other Tujon customers left in a similar position.
He added: “They must have known they were not going to do the work when they took our money, if they were gone from the office by Monday.”
The Echo tried to contact Tujon and its employees on four different phone numbers and via e-mail. Our messages remain unanswered.
Deserted: Office furniture left inside
When we called at the company’s Benfleet High Street office it was locked. There was office furniture still inside, but a sign on the door said the building was being refurbished for a new tenant.
Tujon has traded as a leading double glazing supplier in south Essex for the past decade.
In 2010, it was one of the first companies in the UK to offer lead-free UPCV frames and greener bi-fold doors, according to director Colin Dear, 54.
Speaking to the Echo in June that year, he claimed such innovations meant Tujon was “set to take the double-glazing industry by storm.”
The firm was named after the “two Johns” who founded it – John Turnbull and John Keane – before Mr Dear and his son Scott Dear, 20, took it over.
Untraceable: Colin Dear
Mr Dear and his son had both resigned as directors of Tujon by January this year. The current director is listed as Chris Smith, 31, of William Street, Reading.
*Are you an out-of-pocket Tujon customer? If so, call Jon Austin on 01702 321152 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org