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West Island clients seek refund from snow plow company that didn't show up

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Dozens of families in the West Island are demanding their money back because the man they paid to do their snow removal never showed up to clear their driveways after the first snowstorm of the season.

One Dollard-des-Ormeaux resident, who did not want to reveal his identity, said he was taken for a ride.

"I feel abused," he said. "I'm sad, because I really had a good feeling about this guy."

Mike Estrela is the owner of Supreme Snow Removal, one of the smaller companies operating in the West Island.

The client said he received nothing but great service from Estrela in previous years and even recommended him to friends and family.

"This is what makes me feel bad, because there are a lot people out there that I've recommended him to. It puts me in a peculiar situation," he said.

Estrela did not return CTV's request for an interview, but the contractor who rented him his plow last year said he never received payment for the truck and so he refused to rent it to him again this year.

"Some people are saying that he knew he was in this predicament and he still went out and took people's money. Which, myself too – he came last Friday. He came here and he asked me for the balance. And I said, 'Okay, here.' And I gave it to him," said the client.

CTV News has spoken to multiple other clients who tell a similar story. Some are out as much as $400 and are wondering if they'll ever get their money back.

"You have the same recourse as anyone else has," said lawyer Jeff Orenstein of Consumer Law Group. "You can sue and go to small claims court. You can get a judgment."

It ultimately may not amount to much, though, he said.

"I think the real issue in cases like these is what are you going to do with your judgment? Are you actually going to collect? And I think the answer pretty much every time is no."

Orenstein said there's a simple way to protect customers, by forcing snow removal companies to obtain a licence with the Consumer Protection Office.

"One of the conditions would be having to put up security," he said. "If all of the snow removal companies were required to get a permit from the office, there would be enough money as security to make sure if they don't show up, there is money to collect against."

In the meantime, the client in D.D.O. is hoping for a good outcome, but knows he'll likely have to pay double for his snow removal this winter.

"I just hope he does the right thing from here on in," he said.

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