A Brampton snow clearer, who declared he was out of business just as the worst snowfall descended on the GTA in a decade, says he will continue to serve customers after all.
Kwasi Boakye runs a snow clearing company, Eccoclean Snow Removal, from his parents’ home. He says he has about 150 clients.
“I had been diagnosed with heart issues so I knew I wasn’t going to be able to shovel,” said Hector Turner, who booked Eccoclean back in November.
But as customers awaited Eccoclean’s arrival to clear driveways and sidewalks on January 29, Boakye declared he was going out of business because of equipment problems and staff members calling in sick.
“It is with great regret that we have to inform our clients that we will be ceasing operations…we do not have the machinery nor manpower at this time to do the work. We are currently working on the details for refunds for our clients,” he said in a recorded message on his business phone line.
Customer Denise Peltier also has a medical condition which prevents her from shovelling. Ten days earlier, she gave Boakye $350 to cover the balance of the winter season.
“I’d been totally duped and scammed,” Peltier said, describing how she felt after hearing that the company wouldn’t be coming after all. (Someone did show up to clear two small snow falls in January, although Peltier said the quality of the service was poor.)
Peltier was worried she would be unable to get her vehicle out of the driveway for the ride to work after the storm. She was thankful a neighbour offered her assistance.
But over the weekend, Boakye sent emails to clients expressing a change of heart.
“Over the past couple days, we have received many disturbing emails and phone calls regarding our service. With the media and police becoming involved many people now look at this company as a scam,” Boakye wrote.
“We are NOT A SCAM! This company was built on plastic shovels and frozen toes. We have paid the cost in an extremely difficult industry and have worked diligently to build something Bramptonians can trust,” the email continued.
Reached for a telephone interview, Boakye later explained he didn’t want to leave his customers without a snow removal provider.
“We couldn’t leave those clients out there without service. It’s a necessary service, essential for many, we have to come back and finish the job,” he said.
“Getting a refund doesn’t really solve anything for the clients we talked to,” he said, although he said he would give a “credit” to customers who had to pay to have their snow removed after the storm.
“Whatever we can offer the client we will, whatever will make them happy,” adding he is working on a “case-by-case basis…on whatever else is going to happen”.
Peltier is suspicious of Boakye’s motives and told him by email the trust is broken.
“Did you think that you could close your business without any notice to your customers who pre-paid in cash for a season’s services, and everything would be copacetic? You have clearly underestimated your customers’ response to such an action!” she wrote.
“If the police and Sean O’Shea of Global News had not intervened on behalf of your many, many customers who were left snowed in, I am doubtful you would have authored such an email. One must question the veracity of Eccoclean Snow Removal,” she added.
At least one customer contacted Peel Regional Police to complain but he was told that since the company had done some work during the season there was no basis for a criminal investigation.
In similar cases where deposits are paid and services aren’t rendered, customers can file complaints with the ministry of government and consumer services or go to small claims court.