Helping a woman stiffed by the gov't

Seven On Your Side
June 30, 2008 4:25:09 PM PDT
When most companies need to go after someone who doesn't pay a bill, they turn to a collection agency. But that's hard to do when you are trying to collect money from the federal government.One local company needed help after they did some work for the government and never got paid.

This was no deadbeat contractor. It was the U.S. government that seemingly stiffed a small business from Long Island. And after nearly a year passed with no resolution, the sea of red tape got too rough. It was time for Seven On Your Side to give Uncle Sam a call.

You wouldn't know it, but a thin sheet of plastic is helping make air travelers stay safe at Long Island MacArthur Airport.

"They needed a glare-reducing product," said Carol Borow, of CHB Industries."They were having trouble seeing the security screens as you went through security."

Glare was a such problem at the airport that Borow and CHB Industries were called in last August to cover the windows.

"There was so much sunlight coming through the windows behind them that they couldn't read the machines," Borow said.

They sprayed, fitted and smoothed nearly 100 solar window shades. The total cost was nearly $7,000, to be paid by the United States Department of Homeland Security.

Eyewitness News' Tappy Phillips: "You billed for it?"
Carol: "And we billed and we billed."
Tappy: "But no pay?"
Carol: "But no pay."

Carol said Homeland Security told her it couldn't pay because it needed funding.

So we contacted Homeland Security, and after more than a month of calls, there it was. The vendor who had hired Carol got paid and had a check for the full amount, plus interest.

Department of Homeland Security said they hadn't gotten some required paperwork from the vendor, but also admitted that, "considerable mistakes were made" on their part. But they said they didn't think payment took a long time. In fact, they say they sped it up.