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Getzville snow-removal firm fights state on allegations of gouging during storm

Collingwood Construction of Getzville is fighting state allegations that it took advantage of homeowners during the November megastorm by charging exorbitant prices for snow removal.

The company announced Wednesday that it will challenge as “patently untrue” Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman’s allegation that it was among several Western New York companies that assessed $2,000 or more for snow removal from some roofs and between $1,400 and $1,900 for others. Last week, the attorney general described the prices as “unconscionably excessive.”

But Collingwood attorney Steven M. Cohen says Schneiderman’s contention that the company overcharged consumers in Cheektowaga and West Seneca’s Lexington Green neighborhood ignores the cost of clearing roofs and other services during such a monstrous storm.

“When a reputable company like Collingwood, with a history of fair business practices and a policy of guaranteeing its work, sets a price and presents a written contract to a homeowner and the homeowner agrees, that is not price gouging,” Cohen said. “It is not up to the state to arbitrarily set contractor rates.”

Cohen said that Collingwood workers “set out at their own peril” and plowed roads and driveways to help stranded homeowners and that those costs were “incorporated in these bills.”

“Homeowners received many more services than just clearing snow off roofs,” Cohen said, adding that while the company worked in phases to clear some roofs of snow, it eventually returned to complete the job.

Cohen added that the company guaranteed fixing any problems occurring after the service.

The Attorney General’s Office late Wednesday noted that several contractors were accused last week and that a settlement was reached with one of them Tuesday, resulting in restitution and penalties.

“We look forward to pursuing this case in court,” said Nick Benson, spokesman for the Attorney General’s Office.