Atlanta area's best and worst contractors of 2008

Atlanta area's best and worst contractors of 2008

by Staci Giordullo

In addition to our nationwide list, here are the Atlanta contractors who have earned the distinction of being the best or worst in the Atlanta area.

The Best

Platinum Home Contractors
Canton

Harriett Fox would add a plus to the “A” rating she gave Platinum Home Contractors if she could. Fox hired Phil Roppo’s company to take care of several home improvements throughout her Norcross condo. “I was very pleased with the quality of work he did,” she says. “He had good ideas and suggestions and was up front with what everything cost.”

Fox isn’t the only one to take notice of Roppo’s honesty. Several Angie’s List members report that if Roppo feels a job is out of his league, he’ll let you know. “Phil is the only person who told me straight on what he can and can’t do,” says Michael Calderon of Atlanta. “He’s not going to beat around the bush and make promises he can’t keep.” Roppo, who also dedicates time each month to Rescue Atlanta Ministries, which helps feed and distribute clothing to the homeless, is the first to admit that customer service is the most important part of his business. “Keeping my customers happy is key,” he says. “The best part of my job is seeing the finished product and a smile on my client’s face.”

Decatur Computer Help
Atlanta

Lori Crow of Decatur knew she would need to hire the best to tackle her technology to-do list. After contacting Decatur Computer Help, the best is exactly what she received. Owner Alan Thornton’s work ethic impressed Crow when he spent two mornings working on her four computers. “He even came back a third time to double-check on the virus problem — free of charge!” she says. “It’s like having a buddy in the computer business.”

Fellow Angie’s List members agree that Thornton’s friendly attitude and dedication are exceptional. “He worked on my last problem until 8 p.m. and had to eat a cold dinner when he got home,” says Bill Ray of Atlanta.

Although he’s just a one-man operation, Thornton knows that is no excuse to slack on customer service. “I really enjoy my clients,” he says. “I don’t think I’m in the computer business as much as I’m in the service business. I don’t make promises I can’t keep, and I try to always be fair.”

Aladdin Insulation & Windows
Alpharetta

Charles Whigham, president of Aladdin Insulation & Windows, knows it’s the little things like showing up on time and not asking for money up front that make a difference. “We work really hard to make sure every customer is happy,” says Whigham. “The reason we’re successful isn’t magic.”

They may not be able to pull a rabbit out of a hat, but being honest with customers has helped them earn rave reviews from Angie’s List members. Marisa Puthoff of Smyrna was most impressed with Aladdin’s thoroughness when they replaced her attic insulation. “They took the time to answer all my questions, kept me updated during the process and explained all the work after they were done,” she says.

Whigham promotes the importance of customer service to every member of his team. “My motto goes back to what my granddaddy said — underpromise and over-deliver,” he says. Over-delivering applies to Whigham’s charitable works also: He’s involved with Habitat for Humanity, St. Jude Children’s Hospital and the Children’s Miracle Network.

The Worst

Swim For Less
Alpharetta

“This has been a very bad experience,” reports Angie’s List member Kathryn Burns, who hired Swim For Less to replace her pool liner. It was only after final payment was issued that Burns says she noticed the mistakes. “The new liner has a tear, pulls away from the sides and the pool light is broken,” she wrote in her Angie’s List report. “The pool isn’t operational.”

Swim For Less, also known as Swim4Less, has an “F” rating on the List and a dozen unresolved Better Business Bureau complaints, ranging from alleged material delays to breach of contract, earning them an unsatisfactory rating. The company also landed in the Angie’s List Penalty Box after failing to respond to Burns’ request to fix the liner. She says the company’s owner, Joel Mero, didn’t show up for appointments and was unprofessional when questioned about unfinished work. “If I did get confrontational, it was in response to what she was saying to me,” Mero tells Angie’s List Magazine.

Robert Steele of Marietta hired Swim For Less to replace his pool, but after giving Mero nearly $15,000 over an eight-week period, Steele says he had no choice but to fire him for unfinished work.

Mero says the delays were the homeowner’s fault. “[Steele] wouldn’t pull permits, and I refuse to do the work without them,” Mero says. The contract Mero provided to Steele states owners are responsible for obtaining necessary permits. But Steele says, “[Mero] told me this was just a redo of the pool and I didn’t need the permit.”

Both demolition and construction permits are required to replace an existing pool but it’s unusual for a contractor to ask a homeowner to pull them, says the Cobb County Community Development Department. Most contractors pull permits themselves, says spokesman David Gran.

The Gutter Genie
Alpharetta

Al Rosenthal signed a contract and gave The Gutter Genie a $2,000 deposit to install gutters on his home. But after six weeks of unanswered calls and no work, Rosenthal began to worry.

Even with an unsatisfactory rating from the Better Business Bureau, Rosenthal says he hired The Gutter Genie because they were cheaper than other estimates. He says two months after signing the contract, a few guys showed up at his house unannounced. “They were confused because they said there was supposed to be materials at the house,” Rosenthal says.

The company landed in the Angie’s List Penalty Box after failing to respond to Rosenthal’s complaint that they never performed any work.

All available phone numbers for The Gutter Genie in Alpharetta and owner Sean Daugherty have been disconnected. According to the BBB, the company is out of business.

Innovative Welding Concepts
Jenkinsburg

Excited about the new home they were building in Clayton County, Alvin and Floretta Webster hired Innovative Welding Concepts to create new iron railings for their house. “We gave the owner, Matt Love, a deposit of $4,400 and that was the last we saw of him,” Floretta says. “We went through hell.”

Innovative Welding Concepts has an “F” rating on the List and an unsatisfactory rating from the Better Business Bureau. The Websters anticipated that the company would complete the railings in three to four weeks, but they say each deadline was met with another excuse from Love. “He’d always ask us when we were going to be at the work site, but he’d never show up,” Floretta says.

After four months, the Websters took Love to small claims court and won. But they still haven’t been paid. “He’s got our money and we’ve got nothing,” says Floretta. Attempts to reach Love were unsuccessful. His business phone number and personal cell number are disconnected.


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Worst Atlanta Contractors of 2009

A Decatur remodeling contractor lost his business license, has been convicted on a felony count of writing bad checks and is facing additional criminal cases against him. A financial planner and a pool service contractor round out Atlanta's worst.

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Paul Vlasek

Subject:

Another mark against Joel Mero. I would not recommend Joel Mero's services. His company is Pool Fitness Inc. Poor workmanship, abusive to customer. Had to fire him for nonperformance after he consumed most of the pool renovation money. He tried to sue me for $5,000 but the court gave me the verdict for about the same amount. Claims he can't pay the judgment. Shame on me for not checking Angie's List and Better Business first.

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