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Fort Wayne Snow Removal says it's giving customers refunds

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The snow business

Trouble reaching Fort Wayne Snow Removal?

In a tweet and a Facebook posting this week, the company said it is having trouble with its phones. It recommends that people send emails to

How BBBs elsewhere rate the business

Fort Wayne Snow Removal operates affiliates in about two dozen cities; some of those businesses have attracted the attention of BBBs in those regions. Mike Coil, president and CEO of Better Business Bureau of Northern Indiana, said various BBBs give the business and its affiliates widely different ratings:

*It’s rated A- in Baltimore, Detroit, St. Louis, Toledo and Columbia, Mo.

*It’s not rated in Fort Wayne, Cleveland, Minneapolis and Cincinnati.

*It’s rated F in Boston, Pittsburgh and Des Moines.

Several have complained about service to BBB

Friday, March 8, 2013 - 11:14 am

Winter snows have some customers of Fort Wayne Snow Removal steaming.

More than two dozen have filed complaints with the Better Business Bureau of Northern Indiana. Still other unhappy customers are taking complaints to social media and even to the Indiana Attorney General’s Office. They say their driveways and sidewalks haven’t been shoveled and that the company’s phones and emails don’t appear to be functioning, and that they don’t hear back when they do get messages through.

But founder Brian Thornton on Thursday provided evidence – in a series of forwarded emails – showing that he’s making full refunds to people who’ve complained to the Better Business Bureau. He said Fort Wayne Snow Removal – and its affiliates around the country – has a simple guarantee. “If there’s an issue, we will give a 100 percent refund,” he said.

Money wasn’t the issue for Michael Higgins of Indianapolis, who paid his season subscription for snow removal with an American Express card and can obtain a refund through the card company. He’s upset with the amount of time he spent trying to get a snow-removal contractor to his house to clear snow and trying to reach Thornton. Higgins said he even went as far as trying to contact Fort Wayne Snow Removal affiliates in St. Louis and Pittsburgh. Higgins is one of the customers who has asked the Indiana Attorney General to look into Fort Wayne Snow Removal.

In Facebook and Twitter messages, this week, the company has said that its phone system is ringing with a “fast busy” signal, and calls aren’t getting through. The postings asked customers to email the company instead.

At the moment, the regional BBB is working with Thornton to resolve complaints. Mike Coil, the CEO and president of the regional BBB, said Fort Wayne Snow Removal is still an accredited business, but that accreditation could be revoked Thursday if the company makes no progress toward resolving complaints.

One problem, Coil said, is that several people whose money Thornton said he had refunded said they hadn’t received refunds yet. Thornton said the online mechanism for refunds confuses some customers, and that might account for mix-ups in requesting or delivering refunds.

Thornton was quite open to questions Thursday. He forwarded copies of his ongoing correspondence with the BBB to The News-Sentinel, and he offered to talk with customers who complained to the newspaper, too.

“Out of several hundred customers, there are 26 complaints. … If there is a problem, it’s strictly because of volume,” Thornton said.