I-TEAM: Customers out thousands of dollars after paying deposits for fence work that wasn’t done

Company’s owner says he’ll try to sell equipment to pay people back

The News4JAX ITEAM is investigating complaints about a local fence business that customers accuse of taking thousands of dollars in deposits but not returning to complete the work. On top of it all, customers say the phone number to Father and Sons Fence Co. in Jacksonville has been disconnected and the storefront on the Westside is gone.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The News4JAX ITEAM is investigating complaints about a local fence business that customers accuse of taking thousands of dollars in deposits but not returning to complete the work. On top of it all, customers say the phone number to Father and Sons Fence Co. in Jacksonville has been disconnected and the storefront on the Westside is gone.

Three homeowners contacted the I-TEAM saying they each paid the company anywhere from $1,800 to $4,400 for a down payment. All three say they put their trust in Father and Sons Fence Co. – which business records reveal has been in operation on the Westside of Jacksonville for more than 10 years.

Two of the customers we spoke with are elderly and on fixed incomes, but all three have their own story to tell about feeling helpless.

“We all kind of feel used at this point or kind of violated,” said customer Sean McAfee.

“We gave him $3,500 cash for the material,” customer Raymond Morrison explained.

“It was excuse after excuse after excuse,” added customer Larry Buell.

Buell is a military veteran on a fixed income. He gave Father and Sons Fence Co. a down payment of $1,875 for 175 feet of fencing with a promise the work would start in May. It didn’t.

Raymond Morrison paid $3,350 in October of last year as a down payment for his fence work.

“He was supposed to start here, where this grass line is at,” Morrison showed the I-TEAM.

No one showed up to complete the job and Morrison says when he calls to get in touch with the owner, Glen Northrup, the phone is disconnected.

“It’s pretty sad that Glen and his family would do other people like that,” Morrison added.

As for McAfee, he says his elderly mother paid Father and Sons Fence Co. a $4,400 down payment for fence work in her backyard. That work was also supposed to start in May, but he also got excuse after excuse before the company stopped returning his calls.

“It left us feeling kind of empty and lost,” said McAffe. “And now we have to spend more money on a fence company we can trust.”

The I-TEAM went to the business address of Father and Sons Fence Co. on 103rd Street and found the business gone and the lot being completely cleared. A code enforcement notice was hanging on the fence.

Code enforcement notice at property of Father and Sons Fence Co.'s office (WJXT)

We went looking for the owner, Glen Northrup, and after tracking him down, he agreed to meet the I-TEAM for an interview. We asked him directly: Why are you accepting deposits from customers but not returning to complete the job?

“We’re working hard to get it done. If they want their money, we’ll get it back to them,” said Northrup. “I’m not running from nobody, it’s just hard times right now.”

“How are you going to get it back to them?” we asked.

Tarik Minor talks with Glen Northrup, owner of Father and Sons Fence Co. (WJXT)

“I’m selling stuff, trying to get a job done here and there, and I’m going to get their money back to them,” he answered.

Northrup, who explained he was working and living on the property off 103rd Street, says the property’s owner informed him his rental lease was not being renewed. Northrup says it led to him getting evicted after already experiencing financial hardships that he says started during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Office of Father and Sons Fence Co. (WJXT)

Northrup told the I-TEAM he has 40 Jacksonville area customers still on his books.

“How many of those customers have you taken deposits from?” we asked.

“Maybe 30,” he answered.

“So how much do you think you’re in the hole?” we asked.

“Probably $25,000, $30,000,” he said.

The 65-year-old business owner tells the I-TEAM he hopes to pay back all of his customers by the end of July.

“I apologize, you know. I didn’t’ know this was going to happen. I’m going to do whatever it takes to make things right, and I’m hope they understand,” said Northrup.

Customers say they just want their money back.

“I was patient, but the patience has worn out,” said Buell.

All three customers we spoke with say they have filed official complaints with Florida’s Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, and some say they would push for criminal charges if they don’t get their money back -- if the State Attorney’s Office determines the amount of money owed warrants criminal action.

The I-TEAM also spoke with the Better Business Bureau -- which gives the Father and Sons Fence Co. an “F” rating.

“Well, the F rating, in our case, is because we have closed five complaints, and all five of them have either been closed as ‘unresolved’ or ‘no response’ by the company,” explained Northeast Florida BBB President Tom Stephens. So basically, the company is not responding to the complaints, and they’re not resolving the issue.”

The three customers you saw in our investigation all gave the company 50-percent of the cost of the job up front. Stephens recommends giving much less if a deposit or down payment is required.

“Our advice is to not give more than a third up front,” he said. “Basically, our opinion is that if a contractor has to have the customers give money to buy materials for the job, then he’s probably got some challenges in other places because most contractors have supply companies that will give them a 30-day rolling line of credit. So, they if they don’t have that -- and have to have upfront money -- that might mean that they haven’t paid that supplier on time and so he’s cut them off. So now, it’s cash only when you pick up the materials.”


About the Authors:

Tarik anchors the 4, 5:30 and 6:30 p.m. weekday newscasts and reports with the I-TEAM.