Worst Charlotte Contractors of 2011
Clear Choice Construction | Charlotte, N.C.
Angie's List member Matt Pierce says Clear Choice Construction damaged his Charlotte home's cedar shake siding beyond repair and left his roof unprotected in a thunderstorm after he hired them to fix hail damage. His negative report resulted in a Penalty Box case in March.
The highly rated CCC has 20 reports but racked up three notices to alert members in 2011 - for the Penalty Box; for failure to obtain the required state contractor licenses in North Carolina and South Carolina; and for failure to resolve a brand misuse issue. In April, Angie's List revoked CCC's 2009 Super Service Award and all advertising.
Pierce isn't the only consumer who's complained about CCC's owner, Ronald L. Pierce (no relation to Matt Pierce). Durham member Eric Smith, whose report on AL details a shoddy roofing job by CCC, says he reached a settlement last year on a civil suit he filed against Pierce, but he can't comment on it.
The North Carolina Attorney General's office says it received two complaints against CCC from two other Charlotte homeowners in 2010. After receiving several complaints against Ronald Pierce, the N.C. licensing board permanently enjoined his license in 2008, restricting him from performing work exceeding $30,000. The S.C. licensing board also revoked his license in 2009, barring him from contracting work exceeding $5,000.
In response to an email outlining the complaints, Ronald Pierce says: "I do not do shoddy work. I am a man of my word, and I will defend any and all charges against me." On Matt Pierce's home, Ronald Pierce claims another company, Clear Choice Disaster Services owned by Bob Jones, did the work.Ronald Pierce refused to address any other complaint and referred all questions to his attorney.
Matt Pierce says he questioned the CCDS name on his contract, since his initial contact was with Ronald Pierce and CCC. He also says CCC sent him bills, threatened to place a lien on his home and cashed the check he wrote them.
Jones says he partnered with Pierce on CCDS but he closed that company in March when he and Pierce parted ways. He claims Pierce used a CCDS contract on Matt Pierce's job, but CCC did the work. "I had no dealings with [Matt Pierce]," Jones says.
Triple R Restoration / Pinnacle Restoration | Charlotte, N.C.
Angie's List Charlotte member Clay Whitley says he hired Keith Turner's Triple R Restoration to replace his hail-damaged roof after reading the company's flier that purported excellent ratings on Angie's List and the BBB.
He followed up with references provided by Turner before hiring him, and Turner took his $4,000 deposit for materials. Then Whitley says he never saw or heard from him again.
The unemployed Whitley, who filed a negative report on the company in August, says he feels particularly aggrieved. "I'd just been laid off after 28 years. He still took my check," he says, adding that he used savings to hire another roofing company. "He doesn't know how bad that really hurt me."
Whitley's not alone. The North Carolina Attorney General's office received seven complaints in 2011 against two of Turner's companies, Triple R Restoration and Pinnacle Restoration, spokeswoman Noelle Talley says, and her office ordered Turner to stop charging customers advance payments for work.
One of those complaints came from Angie's List Charlotte member Elizabeth MacPhail, who gave Triple R an F in May after she says she paid them $5,000 but never received a roof. Her complaint landed them in the Penalty Box, and a notice on the company's profile alerts members.
Turner told Angie's List Magazine he blamed subcontractors for taking his customers' money and never performing the work, but he declined to name them. In June, Angie's List added two notices to the poorly rated company's record for action taken by the AG and for fraudulent self reporting.
The AG also won a default judgment last January against Turner and two other companies he operated, Hazelton Management and The Carley Group - named a 2010 Worst Charlotte Contractor - for charging illegal advance fees for mortgage modifications and foreclosure assistance.
The state banned Turner from working in that industry and ordered him to pay $80,000 in refunds and penalties, which he's yet to pay, according to Talley.
Queen City Paint & Body | Charlotte, N.C.
After a driver backed into Lani Koontz's car, the Charlotte resident filed a police report. "The cop said, 'Your insurance will get back to you,'" Koontz says. The next day, she says Queen City Paint & Body called and falsely indicated they were working with the other driver's insurance company to make the repair.
Koontz didn't know then that the state attorney general's office was investigating 18 complaints, which accuse the auto body shop of checking police reports, then contacting the vehicle owners and misrepresenting themselves, according to state records.
When the driver's insurance agent called and denied working with Queen City, Koontz says she tried to retrieve her car but Queen City demanded more than $600 in fees. She says her husband, a lawyer, filed a temporary restraining order and retrieved the car with police. Queen City's phone is disconnected, and owner Gabriel Leonard did not respond to emails.
Certified Estate Planners | Hendersonville, N.C.
After swindling more than 100 clients, including many retirees, out of more than $10 million in life savings by making false promises and bad investments, estate planner Bryan Noel received a 25-year federal prison sentence in February and was ordered to pay $11 million in restitution.
In July, the Department of Justice dispersed to victims nearly $1 million recovered from Noel's business assets. "We hope this disbursement of money provides at least some measure of restitution for these deserving victims," says U.S. Attorney Anne Tompkins in a press release.
Gastonia resident Roy Auten, who lost $187,000 invested with Noel, hoped for a longer sentence. "At least I got something and it's over," says Auten, who received $2,000 in restitution.
Noel, who was convicted of multiple counts of mail and bank fraud, remains incarcerated in the Federal Correctional Institution in Elkton, Ohio. His record includes a notice to alert members.
-by Meranda Watling