Worst Houston Contractors of 2011
Nationwide Moving Services | Kaufman, Texas
Sugar Land resident Emily Kirby filed a complaint in March with the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles after her experience with Nationwide Moving Services, which also does business as TMS Trans National Moving Service, TMS Movers and Texas Moving Services.
"These people are scam artists 101," she says.
Before hiring Nationwide, Kirby grilled the woman who scheduled her move from New Orleans about whether the company would broker the job. She says the scheduler assured her that Nationwide only used its own trucks and employees, so Kirby was surprised when another company arrived in a truck that was too small to fit her family's belongings.
She says the movers also damaged several items, and she was unable to file an insurance claim despite paying Nationwide for insurance in advance. Kirby says the company told her she needed to sign a specific form, but she never received that form.
Kirby's complaint is one of eight - including three from 2011 - lodged against Nationwide since 2009, the same year that state records show its Texas license was revoked by the DMV for failure to maintain auto liability insurance. Public records show the companies' owner, Emily Grubbs, has 15 complaints on record with federal and state licensing agencies.
Plano resident Timothy Floyd filed complaints against Grubbs with both the DMV and U.S. Department of Transportation after Texas Moving Services brokered his move from Denver. He says Grubbs threatened to keep his property unless he paid about $1,000 more than the estimate. "They're the worst people I've ever dealt with," Floyd says.
Federal regulators revoked Grubbs' moving license in 2011 after the company's insurance expired. It was reinstated in September - the same month Grubbs obtained a moving license under TMS Movers, according to state and federal records.
After USDOT fined TMS Movers $25,000 last year to settle at least three complaints, TMS Trans National Moving Service manager John Roberts says, on behalf of Grubbs, that the company no longer brokers moves and only performs jobs with its own employees and trucks.
Gallery Renovations | Katy, Texas
Sugar Land resident Danny Zalta admits he didn't do his homework before hiring Gallery Renovations, based on another contractor's recommendation, to replace his flooring and perform other remodeling. In June, Zalta sued the company in Fort Bend County for breach of contract and filing a false lien against his home. The case remains in litigation.
Zalta alleges he paid owner Greg Taylor $19,000 upfront for an approximately $31,000 contract, but he says Taylor abandoned the job after only tiling the kitchen. Court records show Taylor filed a lien against Zalta's home for the remaining balance.
"He failed to do the work and then lied throughout," Zalta says. "It was a typical scammer." No trial date had been set at press time.
Gallery Renovations rates an F on Angie's List based on one report by Tomball member Steve Yon, who says Taylor failed to complete a $25,000 bathroom remodel. Yon says it cost him another $17,000 for materials and to hire other contractors to finish the job.
Gallery landed in the Penalty Box after failing to address Yon's complaint. "I had to do it on my own, hire subs and pay again!" he says. A notice on the company's Angie's List profile alerts members to the Penalty Box case.
In October, Katy residents Brad and Teresa Lyon won a civil judgment of more than $181,000 against Gallery Renovations, which they hired to do a two-story addition. In court records, the couple alleges Gallery left their home uninhabitable after failing to finish the job.
"The renovations that were made were done negligently and in a defective manner, requiring further repairs and work to be done," according to the final judgment. The judgment also includes the cost for repairs, as well as compensation for mental anguish and violating the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Consumer Protection Act.
Katy and Sugar Land require contractors to register with the city, and neither Taylor nor Gallery Renovations was registered as of press time, according to city records. Taylor, who pleaded guilty in 2008 to misdemeanor assault in Harris County, couldn't be reached for comment. The company also has an F on the BBB.
These Guys Paint And Remodel | Conroe, Texas
Member Jim Avera says it's going to cost $1,700 to repair the allegedly sloppy exterior painting These Guys performed on his Houston home in April. Avera says owner Mo Kasswran failed to prepare his siding or protect his windows and doors from overspray. "He just really made a No. 1 Class A mess," Avera says.
Carmody Quinn of Conroe paid Kasswran a $400 deposit to pressure wash and paint her home, but says he never started her job. Quinn says she received a refund after contacting the district attorney. She and Avera are among 14 members who filed F reports on the B-rated company in 2011; the company also received 5 As, 1 B and 3 Ds.
These Guys landed in the Penalty Box twice in 2011, with a notice to alert members. Kasswran didn't return messages seeking comment.
A-All County Termite And Pest Control | Katy, Texas
When A-All County owner Dennis Strothers allegedly told Gary Kong his $600 estimated bill to eradicate ants would be $1,800 due to a termite infestation, the Katy homeowner became suspicious. Strothers didn't return to finish spraying and couldn't show Kong any termites.
"I'm upset he sold me a termite agreement I don't need," says Kong, who complained to the Texas Department of Agriculture. The agency currently licenses Strothers as a structural pesticide applicator and has received 12 complaints on the company.
Omega McCulley of Humble complained about a similar ballooning bill. "They're bamboozlers," she says.
The BBB also received 12 complaints on the company, including seven in 2011. A working number for Strothers couldn't be located.
While doing business as A-Best Pest Control, Strothers lost a tax lawsuit filed by several local taxing agencies, including the Langhan Creek Utility District. Last January, the Harris County District Court ordered him to pay nearly $1,500 in delinquent taxes and penalties.
- by Meranda Watling