Worst Atlanta Contractors of 2011
GHIR Roofing | Lawrenceville, Ga.
Following an Angie's List Magazine article last March detailing how then highly rated GHIR Roofing saved Christmas for a Lawrenceville couple by replacing a roof left undone by a 2010 Worst Contractor, owner Eric Gilbert fell hard and fast from members' good graces.
The company has earned eight F's and four D's since April, and landed in the Penalty Box four times since May - all for shoddy and incomplete work.
Gwinnett County Sheriff's deputies also arrested Gilbert in July on a felony charge of passing bad checks. Assistant district attorney Bill Akins says the charge stems from Gilbert writing a bad check to a subcontractor. His arraignment was set for Dec. 15 at press time.
Angie's List member Merrie Routson of Stone Mountain says she paid Gilbert $1,500 in June to install a composite deck, but he left her with only shoddy work. "One morning, my big toe was about cut off when I walked out there because I found a screw not drilled all the way down," says Routson, who filed one of the Penalty Box complaints. A notice alerts members to the Penalty Box cases and felony charge.
Members George and Lani Sibley of Atlanta purchased an Angie's List Big Deal offered by GHIR Roofing for a roof inspection in May, but they say he damaged one of their gutters and never replaced it. "Eric is a good salesman, but not a good businessman," Lani says.
In July, Jeri Ryan of Buford won a $21,000 judgment against GHIR after Gilbert took her money but failed to rebuild her tornado-demolished barn in November 2010. She says she's received no payments.
Gilbert says he's closed his business, but admits he's still doing small jobs. He says he previously agreed to do a Big Deal through Angie's List because he thought it would help his company, but he says things started spiraling out of control. He expresses regret about the unfinished work.
"Every night, I go to sleep feeling the stress of my unfinished issues," Gilbert says. "I would make them right tomorrow if I had the resources." A judge approved a personal Chapter 13 bankruptcy filing for Gilbert and his wife in 2008.
Bravo Moving/Advantage Moving & Storage | Atlanta
Member Rebecca Hunter says Bravo Moving used "a classic bait and switch" scam on her when she hired the company to pack and move her belongings from Atlanta to Arlington, Va.
After loading half of her furniture onto the truck, Hunter says the crew informed her she would need to sign papers agreeing to pay more or they wouldn't finish or return her stuff. "I finally signed but said I was going to contest it," she says.
When the movers arrived at her new home in Virginia, Hunter says they told her she needed to give them an additional $4,000 in cash or they'd keep her stuff. She reluctantly agreed, but later tried to pursue legal recourse through federal and state agencies to no avail. Hunter, who joined Angie's List to file an F report, also claims the company damaged several items and stole her TV.
"Run. Don't walk, run," Hunter advises when it comes to hiring the company. "They're criminals. Deliberate criminals."
The Governor's Office of Consumer Protection received nine complaints, including three in 2011, about Bravo and four other moving companies with ties to Yair Knafo, spokesman Shawn Conroy says. His office referred the complaints to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, which declined to comment.
The Georgia Public Service Commission also lists Bravo and Advantage - as well as three other Knafo companies, A Relocation, Atlantic Relocation and Easy Relocation, all in Atlanta, on its illegal household goods carrier list. GPSC spokesman Bill Edge says none of the five companies hold the proper licensing to perform moves within Georgia.
The GPSC fined Knafo $305,000 in 2008 for 61 illegal moves performed by Atlantic Relocation. Edge says Knafo hasn't paid the fine and he suspects Knafo's left the area. A 2008 FMCSA strike force also fined Advantage Moving and Atlantic Relocation $2,100 each for violations. Messages left at Bravo and other numbers were not returned.
Wilson Construction Services | Lilburn, Ga.
At press time, owner Steven Wilson - a 2010 Worst Atlanta Contractor - awaited a judge's decision on his appeal of a February felony conviction for writing a false statement. In the same case, a Cobb County jury found him not guilty on seven other felony counts.
Assistant District Attorney John Butters says the judge gave Wilson the maximum sentence on the false statement conviction. In addition to five years in prison, the judge ordered Wilson to pay $350,000 in restitution to two victims and banned him from the construction industry. A notice alerts members.
Court records say the case involved Wilson's false statement on a building permit for Marietta resident Craig Aaron's renovation project. "I was satisfied with the judge's sentence," says Aaron, who described the work as shoddy.
Wilson, who was released on parole in October, says he's done more right than wrong while working in the construction business, but he's now retired.
A judge approved Wilson's petition for bankruptcy in 2009, but allowed Aaron's claim against Wilson to remain active pending the appeal.
Red Oak Sanitation | Gainesville
In April, Red Oak Sanitation paid a $5,000 fine to the state's Office of Consumer Protection and made funds available in a trust account to refund deposits paid by more than 1,900 Gwinnett County customers, the OCP says.
After the county selected another trash provider in 2010, the OCP says Red Oak failed to refund the $25 to $50 deposits paid by former customers or collect their trash bins.
Red Oak owner Marlon Luce says closing the Gwinnett accounts proved challenging, but he believes the bins are collected and all refunds issued. The OCP confirms Red Oak paid the refunds.
Red Oak has a failing grade on Angie's List with two reports. The Atlanta BBB also gives the company an F, with 33 complaints.
Member Lajos Toth of Gainesville says he ended his service with Red Oak when they removed his trash bins after he was late paying his bill. "I was really upset about it and didn't appreciate them treating me that way," he says.
- by Nick McLain