TEMPLE, Texas — A Temple contractor issued a partial refund to a woman who paid thousands of dollars for landscaping and irrigation, but she is still far from pleased.
Shirley Osenga said she initially hired contractor Ruben Alvarez to inspect her sprinkler system for $95 and do some landscaping work. On Thursday, she told Channel 6 he later charged her $9,000 and told her he expected to be paid in full.
Alvarez also spoke to Channel 6 Thursday, and told a very different story.
"I went over every single thing that was getting done with them," Alvarez said. "They had to approve it. I'm not going to just do stuff without getting approval. How are you going to get paid?"
Alvarez did get paid, but Osenga later began to question what work he actually did. Alvarez told Channel 6 in a phone call he would return on Tuesday, June 25, to refund $250 for a control box she didn't need and said he would be willing to show them where the money was spent.
"They knew about everything that I did there," Alvarez told Channel 6. "I did not do anything wrong."
Tuesday came, and that's not what happened.
Instead, Alvarez dropped off two refund checks for a total of $950 Tuesday morning. Over the weekend, Alvarez told Osenga's son, Greg Artz, over text that he mistakenly charged the family over $700 in taxes. Artz already knew how irrigation systems worked and had begun questioning the bills previously.
In a text to Artz, Alverez wrote, "I am refunding 706.36 for the taxes mistakenly charged."
Alvarez defended his other charges, however, including an $1180 charge related to a booster pump.
"I did not charge $1180 FOR A PUMP! I charged $1180 for 3 leaks she had on the right side of their house and to completely repair the pressure safety release pump, I called it the booster pump," he wrote in the text.
However, Alvarez had written "Added booster pump to add pressure to lines" on the invoice.
Alvarez charged the family for fixing leaks separately on the invoice.
On Thursday, June 20, Alvarez told Channel 6 on the phone, "What I told her, I said 'You're having to do everything on your system as if you were replacing with a whole new system.' She had problems!"
On Tuesday, Osenga told Channel 6 she still has no idea if Alvarez replaced, or even installed, anything for her irrigation system. Osenga said she may be filing a lawsuit.
It would not be the first time Alverez had been sued. Channel 6 found that Alvarez has already received multiple judgments against him by accessing databases on Nexis.com. On Tuesday, Channel 6 confirmed with the Bell County Justice of the Peace Precinct 1 that Alvarez received a judgement against him of $1,316 in the last year and another judgement of $437 around ten years ago.
Channel 6 also confirmed that Alvarez had been previously prosecuted for a theft by check charge according to Bell County records. While Alvarez had an ad on his first invoice to Osenga that stated he was "Insured - bonded registered with the City of Temple, TX," a Temple city spokesperson told Channel 6 via email they could not find any insurance information on him.
"They do not have an insurance certificate on file for Alvarez Professional Services or Ruben Alvarez that they could find and their records go back to 2010," spokesman Jonathan Logue said. "The only Ruben Alvarez on file with the city applied for a mobile food unit permit for Alvarez Catering which is still valid until Oct. 7 2019."
Osenga told Channel 6 she would not be using the contractor again.
"Absolutely not," Osenga said. "And next time I have someone they are going to write it (the invoice) out in detail."
Other stories on KCENTV.com: