Worst Indianapolis Contractors of 2012
Exterior Home Concepts | Indianapolis
After receiving a flurry of complaints from consumers who each paid thousands of dollars to Indianapolis-based Exterior Home Concepts for new roofs that were never installed, the Indiana attorney general in July won a default judgment against the company and one of its owners, Donald Mayes. The lawsuit, filed in Marion County Circuit Court last January, alleged the business violated the state’s home improvement contracts, deceptive consumer sales and home solicitation sales acts by taking consumers’ money but never doing any work, court records show.
“Violated — that’s how I felt.”
The judgment requires the company to pay more than $240,000 in fines and restitution to 18 consumers, according to court records. Tod Boise of Carmel, Ind., one of the consumers due restitution, says he paid more than $10,800 to Exterior for a roof replacement that never happened. He says the last communication he had with the company was from a salesman who told him the company had filed bankruptcy, which federal court records show was untrue. “I was totally shocked,” says Boise, whose roof remains in need of replacement. Plainfield, Ind., resident Charlene Griffin says she also hired Exterior to replace her leaking roof, but says after she handed over the nearly $8,000 insurance check, they never returned. “Violated — that’s how I felt,” she says.
AG spokeswoman Erin Reece says the company has yet to pay any fines or restitution, and her office is pursuing the same charges against co-owner Carrie Holmes, whom it expects to take to trial this year. The company received high reviews prior to late 2011, but landed in the Penalty Box in December 2011 after not responding to a member’s complaint about taking a $6,000 deposit to replace her roof and never doing the work.
A total of 20 consumers filed complaints against Exterior Home Concepts with the Indiana AG and another 10 filed complaints with the Missouri AG, according to state records. Missouri AG spokeswoman Nanci Gonder confirmed her office is investigating Exterior, which also operated locations near Kansas City, Mo.; Atlanta; and Nashville, Tenn. While Exterior holds a general contractor license in Indianapolis, it lacks the required licenses needed to work in Kansas, Georgia and Tennessee, according to licensing records. Exterior’s phone numbers were disconnected.
Room Additions Plus | Indianapolis
Mark Spohn says he paid remodeler Lewis Jacoby, who operated throughout Central Indiana, $5,500 in May to install a shed, roof and gutters at his home near Garfield Park. It wasn’t until after Jacoby stopped returning calls without starting work that Spohn joined Angie’s List and saw the company’s F rating. “It was a crash course in hiring a contractor, and I failed,” says Spohn, whose F review landed Jacoby in the Penalty Box. Seven other members filed F reviews, including three others in 2012, complaining of shoddy, unfinished work.
Spohn says he won a $5,520 default judgment against Jacoby in October. Court records show numerous past civil judgments in Marion and surrounding Indiana counties — including Hamilton, Hancock, Johnson, Madison, Morgan and Shelby — against Jacoby and past businesses he’s owned. He’s operated from a variety of addresses in Greenwood, Ind., and on Indy’s Southside and under the business names of Jacoby Renovations, Jacoby’s Home Improvements and Quick Rite Construction, according to court records.
Angie's List member Ginger Webb of Greensburg, Ind., filed an F review, and then filed a complaint with the Indiana attorney general in February after she says Jacoby failed to complete siding, gutter, roofing and interior repairs on her hail-damaged home. The AG issued Jacoby a warning letter in June as a result of Webb’s complaint, according to state records.
Webb says more than a year after contracting Jacoby, her home’s siding remains incomplete and the subcontractors he hired complained that Jacoby never paid them. “There’s no way we’ll ever see any money, but if we could just get him off the contract we could move forward,” she says, indicating she and her husband, Jay, plan to seek a court order to remove Jacoby from their contract so another company can complete the work.
Jacoby couldn’t be reached for comment. At press time, jail records indicated he was in the Marion County Jail for misdemeanor domestic battery, and he’s due to be returned to the Morgan County Jail to complete a prior sentence for felony theft after violating parole. Indianapolis city records show his contractor’s license expired in 2011.
Indy Air Care | Indianapolis
Weeks after buying her Carmel, Ind., home, Jennifer Smith says she hired D-rated Indy Air Care after receiving a flier in the mail for a $45 air duct cleaning. She says the technician showed her photos of mold that he claimed was in her crawl space, and told her it would cost $1,500 to fix. “I was fighting back tears,” Smith says. “I was horrified.” Her home inspector returned, but she says he found no visible mold. Smith joined Angie’s List to file an F review.
“I was horrified.”
Other members complained of similar bait-and-switch tactics, and Indiana AG records show 17 consumers filed complaints. The AG issued a warning letter in June, saying the company misrepresented needed repairs. The Ohio AG also sued Toby Tobin, the company’s registered agent, alleging his company, Buckeye Air Care, violated state laws, court records show.
Premier Tours | Crawfordsville, Ind.
Nearly 100 would-be travelers say Mary Alice Barbee, owner of Premier Tours in Crawfordsville, took their money but delivered nothing in return. The 84-yearold, who in June filed for bankruptcy — her third in 14 years — is facing an adversary proceeding filed by the Indiana attorney general in October, asking the court to deny Barbee’s request to forgive nearly $120,000 in debt she owes to former customers.
An April lawsuit by the AG also accuses Barbee of violating the state’s Deceptive Consumer Sales Act, based on 10 consumer complaints, and the state is seeking $33,845 in restitution, plus more than $55,000 in fines.
Crawfordsville, Ind., resident Connie Meek, one of the creditors in Barbee’s bankruptcy, says she paid $7,085 last January for an August Alaska tour that never happened. “She’s not telling the truth. It’s devastating,” she says.
Barbee’s attorney, John Bymaster, blamed her troubles on charging too little for the tours she offered and staying in the business too long.
— by Meranda Watling and Lisa Renze-Rhodes