Worst Miami Contractors of 2012
Arkidus Home Protection | Miami
In June, right after paying then-highly rated Arkidus Home Protection $350 for a home warranty to cover her appliances, Angie’s List member Yushuang Xie of Lake Worth, Fla., says she had questions and tried to call the company back. The sales representative who answered her call told Xie to contact her personal agent. “I called at least 20 times and emailed and got nothing,” she says.
“The whole thing is a scam.”
Xie says she requested a refund from the company but never received one. Her F review is one of 50 F reviews and five D’s the Miami-based home warranty company received since May, with members in 21 states saying Arkidus failed to provide promised services, didn’t respond to phone calls and emails and never provided promised refunds. The company also landed in the Penalty Box 23 times in 2012 after not responding to complaints from members in 12 of those states, including Delray Beach, Fla., Angie's List member Karen Oberstein. Just four months after paying Arkidus for premium coverage on a rental property in Atlanta, Oberstein says she filed a claim on a wireless water heater, but says the company provided no service. “I am a retired and totally disabled senior citizen and the loss of $435 plus the loss of the home warranty is devastating to me,” she says, adding that Arkidus never provided a refund, but she received one from her credit card company.
Arkidus’ website informs customers it’s out of business “due to financial loss,” but to contact them for refunds. In an email to Angie’s List Magazine, Arkidus’ owner, Reinaldo “Ray” Berges, says: “Any unresolved issues with clients will be handled.”
In August, the Florida Department of Financial Services issued a consumer advisory regarding Arkidus, alerting Florida consumers to contact the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation with complaints. Tiffany Henderson, the office’s special investigator, confirmed she’s investigating Arkidus, but declined to comment further.
The company’s registration with the Florida secretary of state remains active, and Florida Department of Financial Services records show Berges holds a license to sell automobile warranties, but lacks the required license to sell home warranties. The attorney general offices in Maryland and Virginia each say they received two complaints against Arkidus in 2012.
Father & Son Moving & Storage | Lauderdale Lakes, Fla.
Father & Son to move her recently deceased aunt’s belongings to a storage facility, but says the hourly movers worked slowly, took several breaks, and handled her belongings carelessly. Stein called company owners Louis and Jennifer Manzella to express concern about the length of time the move was taking, and says they asked to speak to the driver and told him to lock the truck until she gave them $500 in cash. “He put a chain around my dead aunt’s stuff and held it hostage, then demanded $500,” says Stein, who says she felt physically threatened to give the movers cash.
Despite paying the $500, Stein says she disputed the move’s total charge based on the company’s hourly rate and asked for a refund. However, she says the F-rated company refused and told her she needed to pay a fuel charge. Her subsequent F review landed the company in the Penalty Box in August for the second time in 2012, after it failed to respond to her complaint. Stein is one of four members filing F or D reviews on Father & Son Moving since November 2011.
Hollywood, Fla., Angie's List member Debbie Malina says her move with Father & Son Moving cost her time, money and sentimental family heirlooms. She says she agreed to pay hourly for two movers, but three showed up to do the work. According to her complaint filed with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ licensing board, the movers damaged an antique nightstand, broke pieces of wood off a coffee table and chipped her headboard. Malina says a company manager promised to pay for repairs, but stopped returning calls. After filing the complaint with the state agency, Malina says she received a check for $125, which was $375 less than the cost of the repair. “They are major scam artists,” she says. “Stay away.”
According to licensing records, Malina is one of 15 Florida residents who filed complaints with the state against the company’s interstate mover’s license since 2009 and consumers requested $5,363 in refunds, but the company only resolved three complaints for a total of $420. The Manzellas, who are properly licensed, did not return messages for comment.
Air Care Solutions/Florida A/C Service and Duct Cleaning | Hallandale Beach, Fla.
West Palm Beach, Fla., Angie's List member Susan Bloom says she hired Air Care Solutions to service the air conditioner and dryer vents in her new home after receiving the company’s flier in the mail, and the technician told her she needed a new air conditioner. But Bloom says Air Care overcharged her $1,500 for the new system and lied to her about interest-free payments. “I’ve never seen a service company so horrible,” she says. “They were a bunch of liars.” Her F review landed the company in the Penalty Box.
Six other members, as well as 143 consumers who complained to the BBB, report similar shoddy work and bait-and-switch sales tactics, according to member reviews and the BBB website. Air Care, which also does business as Florida A/C Service and Duct Cleaning, has six F- or D-rated locations on the List. Florida license records show it has a state contractor license, but no license to work in Broward County. Company owners Biniamin Ram and Netanel Brumand didn’t respond to requests for comment.
VCG Corp. of America/All Dream Vacations | Doral, Fla.
In February, the Federal Trade Commission and the Florida attorney general announced a settlement with the operators of VCG Corp. of America, after suing the company, which also did business as All Dream Vacations, in May 2011 for tricking more than 400 Spanish-speaking customers into paying for vacation prizes they never received. The settlement bans the owners, Cesar and Violeta Gonzalez and Samir Jose Saer Rodriguez, from selling vacation packages and imposes a $14 million judgment against them. “Our two agencies have stopped this business from deceiving consumers,” Florida AG Pam Bondi says.
Court records show a judge discharged the Gonzalez’ bankruptcy in May, listing $15,984,480 in debt. Licensing records show the company never held the required travel independent agent license required for its work.