Queen Creek family says Phoenix contractor moved in during their absence
Prior to leaving his Queen Creek home for the summer, Angie’s List member Rich George says he paid Odie’s Heating and Air owner Lance Oden $5,700 to replace his air conditioner. When the motor didn’t arrive before his scheduled flight to Washington state, George says he made a huge mistake and left Oden with the key to his home to complete the work.
George noticed the home’s electric bill was three times higher than usual weeks later and says he called his property manager, who discovered Oden living in his Phoenix area home. George says he flew back to Arizona, packed up the Phoenix HVAC contractor’s belongings and put them on the curb. “My house looked like the aftermath of a frat party,” George says, adding that he spent over $10,000 on replacing the HVAC system, housecleaning, installing new locks and purchasing plane tickets following Oden’s installation. George joined Angie’s List after the experience and filed an F review on the company, one of three F reviews the C-rated San Tan Valley company has received since June. In March, Oden pleaded guilty to contracting without a license after serving several weeks in the Maricopa County Jail for failure to appear for a related August court date, court records show.
Court documents state Oden’s unlicensed HVAC work cost Scottsdale resident Patty Arndt about $5,400 in damages. Tyler Palmer, spokesperson for the Arizona Registrar of Contractors, says the agency fined Oden about $1,900 after his guilty plea and a judge placed Oden on probation. Since July 2011, Palmer says the agency received 11 complaints against Oden, who has never held the license required for the work he performs. Arndt filed a review after she says Oden left her without air conditioning and with a gas leak during the last days of her husband’s terminal illness. “He is the world’s worst contractor,” the 82-year-old says, adding that she had to purchase a window A/C unit to keep her husband comfortable until his passing.
Arndt also says Oden charged her credit card and collected the same payment in cash. A Maricopa County judge ordered Oden to pay $5,400 in restitution to Arndt as part of his guilty plea, however, Scottsdale city court records show Oden failed to appear for a March court date for failure to pay. “With all the chaos he caused in my life, he should’ve been in more trouble,” Arndt says.
Tempe member Mary Dryden says Oden left a two-inch gap between ducts after working on her A/C, allowing cool air to flow into the attic, increasing her electric bill. Frank Thomas says Oden stole parts from his A/C to repair a neighbor’s unit and never kept a promise to pay for the part. “He has a complete disregard for other people’s health, safety and property,” says the Tempe member, adding that he paid $500 to have the unit repaired.
Oden, who didn’t respond to requests for comment, has prior convictions for driving under the influence of drugs, driving without a license and advertising without a license. At press time, Oden owed $2,850 in three judgments and filed bankruptcy in 2005, claiming about $32,700 in debt, according to court records.