Worst Charlotte Contractors of 2012
Sky Irrigation | Mooresville, N.C.
Angie’s List member Sandra Cooper of Davidson, N.C., says Sky Irrigation owner Shawn Kaiser provided poor service before abandoning her irrigation job midstream. “This guy was just terrible from day one,” Cooper says, noting that he still hadn’t installed her drip line and rain sensor at press time. She says she filed an F review against the F-rated company in August after Kaiser failed to return calls or refund her $10,000 deposit.
Jeoff Greenfield, president of the Linwood Farms Homeowners Association in Mooresville, N.C., says his HOA also lost $2,000 it paid Kaiser in March to replace a damaged irrigation control box in his subdivision. “He knew what he was doing and did good work — until he didn’t,” Greenfield says. After several delays, Greenfield says another contractor alerted him that Kaiser wasn’t properly licensed and had closed the business. North Carolina Secretary of State records show the company was administratively dissolved in 2010 for failure to file annual paperwork, but several Angie’s List members report contracting the company after that.
The state’s Irrigation Contractors’ Licensing Board sent a letter demanding Kaiser cease and desist from unlicensed work or advertising irrigation services in 2009, state records show. Kaiser faces a licensing board hearing this month for the same violations after a Mooresville homeowner complained to the attorney general’s office. Associate AG Tina Simpson says Kaiser remains unlicensed and the licensing board is investigating six new complaints in 2012. It could seek fines of up to $2,000 for each violation.
Angie's List member Christopher Christiano, whose review landed Sky in the Penalty Box in 2011, says his bank reversed the $4,000 credit card charge after Kaiser failed to start his irrigation project. Kaiser did not return messages left by Angie’s List Magazine. Federal court records show Kaiser filed for bankruptcy in 2009, but a judge declined to discharge more than $386,000 in debt to 38 creditors. State records also show he received probation for felony bigamy in 2011 and misdemeanor bad check convictions in 2004.
Instant Tax Service | Charlotte, N.C., and Gastonia, N.C.
A total of 138 consumers, including 124 in the Charlotte area, filed complaints with the North Carolina attorney general’s office against four Instant Tax Service locations, state records show. Those complaints, many alleging the company overcharged for tax preparation or filed taxes without their permission, prompted the AG to file a lawsuit in March seeking an injunction that prohibits three of the franchises owned and operated by Eden Kidane of Charlotte from providing tax preparation services. Those locations are on West Boulevard and Freedom Drive in Charlotte and on East Franklin Boulevard in Gastonia; phones were disconnected at the Gastonia branch, and messages left with the Charlotte locations were not returned.
"I thought they were legit."
Phyllis Warren of Gastonia says she asked Instant Tax Service to file her taxes, but was told to return when she received her W-2s. When she returned to the Gastonia ITS location, Warren says she learned the company filed her tax forms without her permission using a paystub she provided on the first visit. She says she received a refund check, but ITS charged her $877 to prepare a simple tax form. “I heard their ad on the radio,” Warren says. “I thought they were legit. Oh my goodness, I was completely wrong about that.” After complaining to the AG and standing in line outside the business with other unhappy customers for hours only to be told to call another number, she says the company refunded just $50.
Also in October, the U.S. Department of Justice obtained a preliminary injunction against ITS, the parent company of the North Carolina franchises, and its CEO Fesum Ogbazion, court records show. The DOJ will seek a permanent injunction during a May 20 trial. The DOJ filed suit in March, alleging pervasive tax fraud, including preparing and filing fraudulent tax returns and charging outrageously high fees of up to $1,000 for simple tax returns, according to a DOJ press release.
Tax Division spokesman Charles Miller declined to comment on whether the DOJ lawsuit would impact the North Carolina branches, but court records show the lawsuit seeks to permanently shut down Ogbazion and the ITS parent. “We are deeply concerned about the allegations brought forth by the Department of Justice, and are fully assisting the DOJ in its inquiries,” says Rachel Ennis, the company’s director of community relations.
A-1 Appliance Sales & Services | Salisbury, N.C.
Linda Saine of Concord, N.C., mistakenly called F-rated A-1 Appliance Sales & Service to repair her dryer in March, thinking it was a company she’d previously used. Instead, she says owner Leonard “Dan” Savercool treated her rudely, installed a used part in her dryer and attempted repairs she didn’t request on her washer. Both appliances quit working shortly after and he never returned. “It was a horrible experience,” she says. She joined Angie’s List to file an F review on A-1, which solicits customers online and via the phonebook.
Other Angie's List members reported similar shoddy repairs and undelivered warranty service, which landed A-1 in the Penalty Box twice. Savercool, who still sells used appliances on Craigslist, told Angie’s List Magazine he wasn’t aware of the complaints and blames the service problems on frequent out-of-town trips he made to tend to a sick relative.
In September, Rowan County police arrested Savercool on a warrant unrelated to his work for misdemeanor charges of fraud and resisting a public officer, and he faced a December court date, court records show.
Triple R Restoration/Pinnacle Restoration | Charlotte, N.C.
The North Carolina attorney general’s office won a default judgment in March against Reginald K. Turner and his two companies, which bans him from contracting for home repairs in the state, court records show. AG spokeswoman Noelle Talley says the lawsuit awaits a hearing to determine the restitution and fines.
“I was completely ripped off.”
It’s based on 12 consumer complaints, including one from Keith Byrd of Matthews, N.C., who says he paid Pinnacle more than $4,000 to replace his hail-damaged roof, but Turner never did the work. “I was completely ripped off,” he says.
Other Angie’s List members allege similar problems, which landed Turner in the Penalty Box in 2011.
The AG also won a default judgment in 2011 against Turner, which bans him from working in the mortgage or loan modification industry. Turner, a three-time Worst Contractor, did not return messages seeking comment.