San Antonio Best & Worst Contractors of 2013

San Antonio Best & Worst Contractors of 2013

The Angie's List Newsroom reveals the Best & Worst Contractors of 2013.

 

San Antonio Best Contractors

December 27, 2013 by Gretchen Becker


Heaven’s Best Carpet Cleaning — Art | San Antonio

Heaven's Best Carpet Cleaning services also include tile, grout and upholstery. (Photo courtesy of Art Pacheco)
  • Praised for pet friendliness
  • 2013 Super Service Award eligible
  • Nominated for Pages of Happiness
  • Licensed or licensing not required

Angie’s List member Jim Durlack needed help getting his house in order and called on Art Pacheco to clean up his neglected carpets, tile and grout.

“That guy’s a miracle worker,” says Durlack of San Antonio, who submitted one of the company’s 37 Page of Happiness nominations in the last year. “When he got done with the whole house and the cleaning and the tile work, I’d already made up my mind I wanted this guy back every few months.”

This is Pacheco’s third selection as a top San Antonio contractor since he started the franchise in 2010 after retiring from an aviation career. Vacuuming followed by a low-moisture cleaning method, instead of traditional steam cleaning, gets carpets clean and dry in about an hour, he says. “Customer service is No. 1,” Pacheco says. “Within a week, I follow up. They appreciate you calling them.”

Members also praise Pacheco, who doesn’t need a license for his trade, for interacting with their pets and his friendly demeanor. Member Adam Beutnagel of San Antonio hired him to clean carpets and grout in five rooms, a hallway and a closet. “The carpets smell and look great,” he says. “He gave me some great tips as far as cleaning the carpets. I would definitely use this company again.”

Alamo Water Softeners | San Antonio

Allen Townsend and son Trevor install water softeners. His wife and daughter are also part of the family business. (Photo courtesy of Alamo Water Softeners)
  • 2013 Super Service Award eligible
  • Nominated for Pages of Happiness
  • Green products or work practices
  • Licensed or licensing not required

A family-run company with employees who love what they do keeps customers coming back, says Trudy Townsend. She owns the company with her husband Allen, who holds a Class III Water Treatment Specialist license issued by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.

“It’s been amazing since our children both joined us [in business] last year,” she says. “It’s a fantastic feeling knowing that you’re building a business that will be carried on by your children.”

The 10-year-old company treats customers well, and their top-of-the-line softeners can use up to 30 percent less water than other units, Allen Townsend says. This is the fourth year the Northside company earned a top contractor recognition, in addition to three Super Service Awards.

Member David Curley of San Antonio submitted one of 20 Page of Happiness nominations on the company in the last year, after he hired Alamo three times for various services. “They really care about what they are doing for the customer,” Curley says, adding the company found a water usage problem other plumbers missed.

Homeowners can purchase cheaper water softeners online, but the units aren’t typically set for San Antonio’s conditions, Trudy Townsend says. “Just about everyone in the San Antonio area struggles with the damaging effects of hard water,” she says, adding that Alamo runs water quality tests before recommending systems to treat water. “The first step is to identify what that problem is. We only offer solutions that promise to bring long-term results.”

Member Marcus Sosa found Alamo on the List and says he recommends them to friends, family and even strangers after the company installed a reverse osmosis drinking water system and a water softener. “As soon as I got off the phone, I knew that was the company to go with,” he says. “They were willing to put us on a payment plan. It’s so much easier breaking it down. They’re one of those companies who say, ‘Don’t hesitate to call,’ and they mean it.”

Alamo Discount Solar Shades Manufacturing | Cibolo

Customers rave about custom shades that block heat from the sun and save energy. (Photo courtesy of Alamo Discount Solar Shades)
  • 2013 Super Service Award eligible
  • Nominated for Pages of Happiness
  • Green products or work practices
  • Licensed or licensing not required

Installing solar shades and screens blocks ultraviolet rays, helps keep indoor and outdoor living spaces cooler and lowers energy bills, says Donna Franco, who owns the business with her husband Lupe and business partner Andrei Ivanov. “Andrei is practically an artist when it comes to building these frames,” she says. Custom blind and shade installation doesn’t require a license.

Member Gretchen Goetz from San Antonio hired Alamo to cover her upstairs east-facing windows to block morning sun. “The windows are original to the house, which was built in 1979, so they aren’t energy efficient,” she says. “The morning heat coming in from those windows has decreased dramatically.”

After having solar screens installed throughout her house, member Pamela Alston of New Braunfels then hired Alamo to cover her sun porch. “It’s dropped our [energy] bill [by] about $25 a month,” she says. “I would hire them again in a New York minute.”

Anthony’s Make Ready | San Antonio

Anthony Harness focuses his handyman efforts on painting and minor fixes. (Photo courtesy of Anthony's Make Ready)
  • 2013 Super Service Award eligible
  • Nominated for Pages of Happiness
  • Green products or work practices
  • Licensed or licensing not required

Member Janeice Templeton of Austin hired Anthony Harness to freshen up her son’s San Antonio home, which he had rented to college friends. Her son was so happy with the transformation, he cried, she says. “He was bringing home his fiancée, and I said he can’t come with this girl and her mother to this kind of a house. He’s still amazed. Anthony’s a blessing. I swear he’s an angel.”

Harness, whose trade doesn’t require a license, uses eco-friendly paints, as well as a personal touch. “I kill myself to make them happy,” he says.

Member Amy Ellis of Fair Oaks hired Anthony’s Make Ready for paint and drywall repairs. “My list of wants grew as the job went on,” she says. “Anthony met all of our needs without flinching.

More Best Contractors

Here are some more Best Contractors who made this year's cut based on their awesome track record for local service. Read their reviews on angieslist.com to learn why members think they're so special.

2013 Best & Worst Contractors

The Angie's List Newsroom reveals the Best & Worst Contractors of 2013. Did your contractor make the list? Select a market to the best and worst in your area.

San Antonio Worst Contractors

December 27, 2013 by Gretchen Becker

South Texas Appliance Repair | San Antonio

Member Jolene Steuckrath of Canyon Lake says repairmen didn't believe she thawed her refrigerator. (Photo courtesy of KENS-5 TV, San Antonio)
  • Accused of shoddy work
  • Faces/faced civil lawsuits or penalties
  • Allegedly took the money and ran

Member Pamela Graham says South Texas Appliance Repair technicians visited her New Braunfels home five times to repair her fridge that wouldn’t cool. Now she says she has the opposite problem: It’s so cold, even when she sets it on the warmest setting, that some of her fresh produce freezes. After spending about $400 on repairs, Graham says she’s left using a dorm-sized fridge for milk and produce. “I never called them back because it wasn’t worth it anymore,” she says, adding that she joined Angie’s List after her debacle. “I saw what the reports were as soon as I signed up.”

Members filed five D or F reviews in 2013 and complained about South Texas Appliance diagnosing problems without looking at equipment, leaving water lines unhooked, refusing to correct faulty repair work and expressing rude attitudes toward customers. Many customers complained about the D-rated company after receiving a referral from their home warranty company for repairs, according to member reviews.

Owner Roberto “Bobby” Lucio says if he performs insurance or warranty work that doesn’t fully cover the repair costs, customers often complain. “If they pay me, then I can do the work,” he says. Attorneys for Bexar County also filed a lawsuit against South Texas in July for $643.74 in unpaid property taxes. The district clerk confirms Lucio paid the taxes in September.

Member Jolene Steuckrath of Canyon Lake hired South Texas through a Home Depot warranty referral when the water in her refrigerator stopped flowing properly. She paid a $91 trip charge but says the technician didn’t do any work. “He tells me to let it thaw out for 24 hours, which I did,” she says. When she called for follow-up repairs, she says Lucio accused her of not doing what they recommended. She says the company failed to come back for further repairs or refund her money. “All she had to do was stop the fridge for 24 hours,” Lucio says. “She wanted me to put some parts in there that GE is going to send her. I told her, that’s not going to work, and I’ll charge you $150 [to install the parts].”

Cowboys Air Conditioning & Heating | San Antonio

Customers complain that Cowboys fabricates repairs to increase costs including telling customers A/C coils need cleaned. (Photo courtesy of Karen McDaniel)
  • Accused of shoddy work
  • Faces/faced civil lawsuits or penalties
  • Allegedly took the money and ran
  • Notice added to provider's profile

Dissatisfied members left seven F reviews in 2013 complaining that D-rated Cowboys Air Conditioning & Heating tried to upsell expensive, unnecessary services, performed shoddy work and took money without performing repairs.

Member Karen McDaniel of Cibolo filed an F review after she says technicians told her in March the coils on her 4-year-old A/C unit needed a $1,200 cleaning. “We have UV lights to keep them from getting that way,” she says.

McDaniel says another company told her Cowboys sold her four ultraviolet lights when she only needed two. “Five years ago, they didn’t seem to be that bad,” she says, adding she paid for biannual maintenance before noticing a change. “They were pressuring me, and I wanted to get a second opinion. We took pictures to show the coils. It was like the guy got caught. They work on commission. They’re not just there to make the repairs.”

President Alvaro “Al” Martinez runs the business with his brother Ariel Martinez and says most of their work involves A/C repairs. “We’ll give you our opinion,” he says. “Of course, there’s always a repair.” His 23 employees earn an hourly base pay, plus commission, he says, but adds that customers complain about overcharging when they haven’t performed routine maintenance. “It’s just like going to the dentist,” he says. “You can brush your teeth, but they still get dirty. It’s a gray area, and sometimes looks bad.”

Court documents show San Antonio residents Michael and Kristie Harrison filed a civil suit against Cowboys in 2012 demanding $196,868.17 for installing an inoperable heater, and for mental anguish. The court awarded the Cowboys’ property to the couple, including 10 work vans, two personal watercrafts and a boat, Martinez says. Court records also show Cowboys filed bankruptcy in September 2012 to get the property returned to them. “We filed so we could restructure,” Martinez says. “I could’ve run from the bankruptcy, changed the name, but we didn’t.”

The Texas attorney general also won a $40,000 judgment against the company for illegal telemarketing practices in 2011.

E&L Pro Lawn Care | San Antonio

Members complain that Edwin Roche started jobs and left them incomplete. (Photo courtesy of Raymond Jones)
  • Accused of shoddy work
  • Faces/faced civil lawsuits or penalties
  • Landed in the Penalty Box
  • Allegedly took the money and ran
  • Notice added to provider's profile
  • Illegally unlicensed

Schertz member Raymond Jones says he joined the List after buying a LivingSocial deal for a landscape design that F-rated E&L didn’t honor. “It’s stealing; I don’t care how you look at it,” Jones says, adding he paid $1,900 to owner Edwin Roche who Jones says worked without permits or a license, then left his yard in shambles. In May, Jones says Roche promised to repay $100 a week, but didn’t. His F review, one of four for E&L in 2013, put them in the Penalty Box after E&L didn’t respond to the complaint.

Texas AG records list one 2013 complaint from San Antonio resident Roy Gleinser, who sought a $1,946 refund for unfinished work. Court records also show Roche filed for bankruptcy in May 2011, but the court dismissed it after he failed to repay the agreed-upon $138,614.58 debt. E&L also owes a default judgment of $26,450 in a separate civil case, the Bexar County clerk says. Roche didn’t return messages for comment.

Clean Sweep Estate Sales | San Antonio

Members say items go missing after Clean Sweep Estate Sales holds auctions. (Photo courtesy of Patricia Callahan)
  • Accused of shoddy work
  • Faces/faced civil lawsuits or penalties
  • Landed in the Penalty Box
  • Allegedly took the money and ran
  • Notice added to provider's profile

After conducting an estate sale for her mother’s household items, member Patricia Callahan of Frisco says F-rated Clean Sweep shorted her by $248 and didn’t return unsold items. “I feel that my mother was so dishonored,” says Callahan, one of three people who filed an attorney general complaint against the company in 2013.

San Antonio member Daniel Aguilar’s F review resulted in a Penalty Box case in August after he says owner Janet Craig Holland didn’t respond to a request to pay him for a May sale. Bexar County court records show James Rhodes won a 2013 judgment for $15,600 against Holland for not paying him after an estate sale. “[He] didn’t get paid in a timely manner,” Holland admits, noting she got behind on paying customers due to a growing business.

Penalty Box Hall of Shame

The Penalty Box is our way of alerting other members about a provider who has failed to meet a member's expectations. See San Antonio Penalty Box Hall of Shame.

2013 Best & Worst Contractors

The Angie's List Newsroom reveals the Best & Worst Contractors of 2013. Did your contractor make the list? Select a market to the best and worst in your area.


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Best San Antonio Contractors of 2012

Alamo-Water-Softeners.jpg

Father and son Allen and Trevor Townsend install locally-built water softeners in San Antonio. (Photo courtesy of Alamo Water Softeners)
Father and son Allen and Trevor Townsend install locally-built water softeners in San Antonio. (Photo courtesy of Alamo Water Softeners)

Angie's List names the Best San Antonio Contractors of 2012.

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