KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — A Knoxville couple says they regret hiring a home improvement contractor last fall. They told WATE’s Don Dare they paid thousands of dollars in advance and Jonathan Presley started the job, but then quit.

Four years ago, Presley and his brother, Warren, were charged by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation for impersonating a licensed professional and not completing their work. Nearly seven years ago, WATE began receiving complaints about the Presley brothers.

Unfortunately, Amanda and John Norton were unaware of their contractor’s history. Eleven days ago, Presley said he’d return their money within a week, but he hasn’t.

“This is the new post and the railing. He was supposed to finish and put the metal spindles in here,” said Amanda. “They were supposed to take up the carpet, put new carpet down, put in a new banister that would be sturdy.”

The stairway is neither sturdy nor safe for her family.

“All he left us with is a hazard,” said Amanda. “John Presley came out initially, he surveyed. Later on, he brought people with him, his brother, Warren Presley.”

Amanda shared that a deposit of $8,100 was agreed upon so he could buy carpet, but the carpet was never bought. Amanda’s husband John kept in contact with John Presley through text messages.

“He kept saying, well, we’ve got to wait until we finish another house, can you wait until December? We did. Then he called like a week in December and said let’s just wait until after Christmas,” John Norton said.

John Norton says a few days after Christmas, John Presley spent several hours tearing up the couple’s staircase never to return. A worker did come back in March and stained the railings.

“We’re done with his services, we want our money back,” Amanda said.

The Nortons sent a demand letter last month requesting their money back since John Pressley had not returned it. Presley is no longer at the address listed for his business. So, Dare called him on March 18. Presley said he is now just recovering from the coronavirus.

“My brother almost died, we had COVID for two months,” said John Presley on the phone.

Presley said he has talked with the couple and made an agreement with them.

When asked about returning their money John Presley said he would return the money within a week.

“It’s not their fault, it’s our fault. We’ll return their money, full refund,” he said.

To date, no money has been refunded to the Nortons and the couple is looking for a new contractor.

John Presley claimed he was going to give the couple a cashier’s check Friday, March 25. The Norton’s said Presley then began negotiating with them last week, saying he’ll return their money over the next few weeks, a little bit at a time.

Again, Presley told us, it was his intention to finish the job. The Nortons said with the work unfinished, they may file a felony theft charge against Presley as some of his previous customers have done.


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