Fence fight: More than a dozen customers accuse company of 'shoddy' work

I-TEAM confronts R. Champ Fencing after Better Business Bureau releases warning

By Jennifer Waugh - The Morning Show anchor, I-Team reporter, Jodi Mohrmann - Managing Editor of special projects, Eric Wallace - Senior Producer, I-TEAM

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - R. Champ Fencing has had so many complaints filed against it in the last three years, the Better Business Bureau has given it an “F” rating. We talked with two customers who said not only was the work “subpar," their attempts to get the company to fix it were ignored -- until the I-TEAM started investigating. 

“Once he’s got his money, he’s done with you,” said John Porcella, referring to Randy Champ, owner of R. Champ Fencing.  “I called him numerous times”.

Porcella showed us the fence and two gates he paid the company $1,325 to build in July 2017 outside his San Pablo home. 

John Porcella

“This gate will fall down at any moment.  You see the nails?  Nothing is in the 4-by-6,” said Porcella.  His wife paid the remainder of the bill while he was at work.  He said had he been able to inspect the fence before paying the final installment, he would never have paid the remaining balance. 

He showed News4Jax rusted metal, cracked fence slats and a post that is so loose it moves back and forth when pushed.  Also, one of the gates does not open completely, as it appears it was installed too close to the ground.  The other one does not open without dragging on Porcella’s concrete driveway.  He also showed us a log of times and dates he called the business and the owner, Randy Champ, indicating he asked at least 15 times that the problems be fixed.

Customers complained of issues with screws and broken slats.

“I called him up and for his benefit, he did come back and he tried to fix this,” explained Porcella, referring to his fence.  Porcella said Champ told him he needed to put in larger bolts, and replaced 2-inch bolts with 3-inch bolts.

"I looked at it and said, 'Sir, that’s not even touching the 4-by-6.' He says, "Oh, I’m going to have to get more bolts, and I’ll come back'; never came back,” Porcella said.

Another fence improperly installed

“As you can see the gate will not open because the fence is down into the grass,” said Scott Hetzinger. "I paid $600 for this and I can’t get my gate open.” Hetzinger still has the contract he signed in 2016 with R. Champ Fencing to build a fence on the right side of his Jacksonville home. 

Scott Hetzinger

Hetzinger also needed two gates so he could pull out his boat.  “It was installed in October 2016, I contacted him in April 2017,” he said.  Hetzinger said he didn’t realize there was a problem with the gates until he tried to remove his boat for fishing season.  He said he emailed the Orange Park company, but no one ever responded, until the I-TEAM got involved.

Confronting the company

I went to the company’s office to get some answers.  An employee told me the owner, Randy Champ, was out of town.  He could not answer any of my questions, but would tell the owner I was looking for him. 

Within a few minutes, Randy Champ called me and told me, “I promise I will make it right.”  He explained he was out of town but would be returning Christmas Eve and would address Porcella and Hetzinger’s concerns when he returned.

Repaired fence at the Hetzinger home

He told me if Porcella agreed, he would remove all the fencing his workers had installed and return his $1,325.  He said he would do his best to rectify Hetzinger’s concerns.  

About a month later, Hetzinger’s gates were cut so they now open.  Porcella sent us this video of Champ’s workers removing the fence they had installed.  He told us Randy Champ also returned the $1,325 he had paid for it.

Warning from the Better Business Bureau

While both customers are thankful to the I-TEAM for helping them, the Better Business Bureau warns anyone who needs a fence to be very careful if you plan to hire R. Champ Fencing. 

“The general kind of complaints we have received all relate to shoddy workmanship, not completing the job as promised, fences that don’t meet in the corners, fences that don’t tie into the existing fence, posts that aren’t deep enough in the ground,” explained Tom Stephens, President of the Better Business Bureau of Northeast Florida.  He also said R. Champ Fencing’s customer service after the fact is, “slim or nonexistent”.

In general, Stephens asked we remind anyone who is thinking about hiring a company to work on their property:

  • Check the company’s rating with the Better Business Bureau at www.bbb.org
  • Never pay for all the service up front
  • If you can, pay with a credit card to increase your chances of getting some of your money back by disputing any bad work
  • Don’t pay a penny until the job is done to your satisfaction

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