Worst Columbus Contractors of 2012
Total Cleaning Solutions of Columbus | New Albany, Ohio
In May, the Ohio attorney general settled with Total Cleaning Solutions owner Scott Loewenstine, a 2011 Worst contractor who also used the names Air Duct Doctor, The Duct Doctor, The Duct Guys, Buckeye Mold Removal, Columbus Dryer Vent Cleaning and Total Carpet Cleaning Solutions, according to the settlement.
The settlement says Loewenstine offered a $16.95 duct cleaning through Valpak and Groupon advertisements and required a mold test be performed first. Loewenstine found mold in nearly every home, and charged from $200 to $1,000 for removal, the settlement says. It adds that Loewenstine failed to perform some duct cleanings as well. He paid more than $15,000 in restitution and $5,000 to the AG’s consumer protection fund. Total Carpet Cleaning Columbus and the Air Duct Doctor have F grades on Angie’s List and the former landed in the Penalty Box in November 2011.
Reynoldsburg, Ohio, resident Geraldine Metcalfe hired Total Cleaning Solutions to clean her ducts after seeing a $30 coupon under the name The Duct Doctor. She says the company told her they found mold, installed a light meant to eliminate it and didn’t deliver a promised refund after she complained that the $900 light didn’t work. “I’ve used [those coupons] before and been fine,” says Metcalfe, adding that she paid $1,200 total to the company and questions whether she had mold.
Angie’s List member Kerstin Beckett of Dublin, Ohio, says she hired The Duct Guys in April to clean her laundry dryer duct, but they took apart her dryer. “They didn’t put the dryer back together — they kind of put me in a tough spot,” says Beckett, who joined Angie’s List after the experience.
Loewenstine says he complied with the AG’s requests, but refused to respond to consumers’ allegations. “We didn’t agree with the complaint,” he says. “We just wanted the AG off our backs.” He adds Total Cleaning Solutions no longer advertises duct cleaning. A voicemail at the firm directs callers to LivingSocial or Groupon for refunds. Groupon spokesman Nicholas Holliwell says the company no longer works with Loewenstine, and Jody Gavin of LivingSocial says it’s reviewing its relationship with him.
Ms. Sparkle | Columbus, Ohio
Angie's List member Amy Andrews of Dublin, Ohio, hired Ms. Sparkle to clean her house before a party she planned to host. When no one showed at the scheduled time, she reached by phone an associate of company owner Crystal Evans, who did what Andrews described as a substandard cleaning. “I think she was just an office person and she felt bad, so she came,” Andrews says.
Ms. Sparkle earned a D grade on Angie’s List based on 20 reviews from members, including straight F grades in all 11 of its 2012 reviews. The company also landed in the Penalty Box after failing to respond to Mary Anne Bentivegna’s request that the company honor its coupon, which states that two cleaners perform three hours of cleaning. Bentivegna claims Ms. Sparkle didn’t return calls or provide notice when coming to clean. “It was a complete and utter headache,” she says. The Ohio attorney general also received two complaints about the company, according to the office.
Member Chris Caravajal says he purchased two hours of housecleaning from Ms. Sparkle through LivingSocial in October 2011, and contacted the company nine times in seven months to schedule an appointment to no avail. Caravajal, who says LivingSocial refunded his $59 purchase, admits he didn’t check the List before hiring. “I wish we would have done our due diligence,” he says.
Evans didn’t return multiple calls and emails seeking comment about Ms. Sparkle, which isn’t required to be licensed.
Webb Contracting | Worthington, Ohio
Columbus, Ohio, resident Laura Stephenson says she paid Webb Contracting, which the Ohio attorney general says also operates as Basement Living Systems, a $7,430 deposit for a remodeling project but the work never started. “I just really feel swindled,” Stephenson says. “That’s a large amount of money to disappear.”
The attorney general’s office sued Webb Contracting and owner Brett Webb in March, alleging multiple violations of the Ohio Consumer Sales Practices Act and Home Solicitation Sales Act, according to court documents. The suit claimed Webb Contracting made false or misleading statements to consumers and took money for services it didn’t provide. In some cases, the suit states, the business did such poor work that homeowners spent additional money to have the work completed correctly. Court records show Webb lost a default judgment in the case Aug. 27 after failing to appear at the hearing, and will have to pay restitution to his victims.
Webb, who doesn’t hold the general contractor’s license required to do basement work in Ohio, according to the Ohio Department of Commerce, has an F grade under Basement Living Systems. Webb didn’t return messages seeking comment.
Best Choice Egress Windows | Columbus
The Ohio attorney general sued Best Choice Egress Windows of Columbus, Ohio, for failing to deliver windows and installing leaky windows, Franklin County court records show. Member Adam Rich of Columbus says he paid $4,000 for basement windows that weren’t installed properly. “This was by far the worst contractor experience I’ve had,” Rich says of C-rated Best Choice, which landed in the Penalty Box in September 2011.
Best Choice owner Daniel Perley pleaded guilty to misdemeanor forgery in July 2011 and served a 108-day jail sentence, and at press time there was a warrant for his arrest in Union County on a felony theft charge, court records say. Perley, who doesn’t have a general contractor’s license needed to install windows in Ohio, didn’t return messages seeking comment.