A warranty issue has one Arkansas woman seeking a solution by suggesting legislation.
One of the key considerations when you're thinking about investing in a new roof, a swimming pool, a new car or any other major purchase is the warranty.
We were contacted by a Benton woman after she discovered her warranty is no longer worth the paper it is printed on but the man who signed it is still selling siding.
She thinks there oughta be a law against that.
It's been nearly 20 years since Louise Spivey and her husband decided to put new siding on their home.
She is happy with the job…with one exception.
It is hard to tell looking at this video, but with your own eyes she says it is easy to see that the siding on the side of her home that gets the most sun has faded.
So Louise called the number on her contract and asked if someone could come take a look.
"You have a lifetime warranty on your siding, right?"
"Yes," replies Spivey. "In writing. Signed by Kim Hanke. Saying for the lifetime of the structure…any problems or repairs…they would take care of it."
Louise didn't know it, but just over a year ago her old siding company…Hanke Brothers Siding and Windows Inc…filed for bankruptcy.
The number she called went to a new siding company using the Hanke name: Hanke Brothers and Sons, Inc.
"It's not right," says Spivey. "It's not right to the people that have written warranties to be told that hey, we've declared bankruptcy. You can get all the lawyers you want. We don't have to make good on the warranties."
"Any warranty you ever get…whether it is from General Motors or whoever it is from…is only as good as the company that stands behind it," says Greg Crow with the Arkansas Contractors Licensing Board. "When that company is gone, then your warranty is gone."
But Louise says that is just it…Kim Hanke is not gone.
She says she saw a television ad just the other day for Hanke Brothers and Sons, featuring Kim Hanke as Spokesperson…selling siding.
A letter delivered to KATV Friday morning explains that Kim Hanke is "…Vice President of the new company which is owned by his son. Gregory K. Hanke, the father, is in charge of sales and marketing for the new company as a paid employee on a commission basis. Gregory K. Hanke, the father, does not own any interest in Hanke Brothers and Sons, Inc."
"They told me that Mr. Hanke is still involved but his son was the main owner now," says Spivey. "But they're still the same address. I called the same phone number I'd called 20 years ago I think. There's something wrong when they can do that."
Louise says there "oughta be a law" that prevents a company from getting out of past debts and obligations but still being able to enjoy past name recognition by reopening under a slightly different name.
"Yes," agrees Crow. "I think that would be a good idea."
The federal bankruptcy process allows businesses to discharge liabilities and sell assets, including naming rights.
Crow says the new company has an active license on file under the name 'Hanke Brothers, Inc." but there is nothing on file for "Hanke Brothers and Sons, Inc."
Although there is no evidence that the new firm's use of the old Hanke name change was done solely to escape past obligations, Crow says if the Contractors Licensing Board suspects that, the agency will and has in other cases refused to issue or renew a contractor's license.
"It would be great if there was a more encompassing law that dealt with not just contractors of course but…whether it is a used car salesman who has issued a warranty or whether it is any kind of business that is issuing a warranty…it would be great if you can't just shut that down and move on and shed those liabilities," says Crow.
It is not against the law to slightly change your name and reopen as a new business.
In fact, Crow says there are often very legitimate reasons to do it.
"Just because someone applies for a license in a different name or a similar name doesn't necessarily mean it is suspicious," says Crow. "But we look at those…closely…when that does happen."
Our efforts over the past two weeks to get Kim Hanke, the father, to do an on-camera interview about Ms. Spivey's concerns were unsuccessful.
Mr. Hanke has told us in phone conversations that he regrets the failure of his old business but that Hanke Brothers and Sons is a totally new venture.
He says all laws have been followed and the Hanke brand remains strong in Arkansas.
Many lost a substantial amount of money when Hanke Brothers Siding and Windows went through bankruptcy, including KATV.
As for Louise Spivey, she says Kim Hanke, the father, did offer to replace her faded siding…if she pays for materials and labor. She said no thanks.
Air date: February 15th, 2013
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