Worst Norfolk-Virginia Beach Contractors of 2012

Worst Norfolk-Virginia Beach Contractors of 2012

A-1 American Services | Virginia Beach, Va.

Chesapeake, Va., Angie’s List member Lillian Clark says she felt taken advantage of after a call to A-1 for a failing heating and A/C unit. The longtime member says she didn’t check the List, but hired A-1 because the company had done good work for her previously. She says two repairmen came to her home last December, and before consulting with her, allegedly serviced the unit, then proceeded to demand $1,000. “They should have come in and said, ‘This is what it is going to cost.’ I would have told them no,” Clark says.

Instead, she says she negotiated the price to $500, with an agreement that she would pay in two installments. When another company told her the bill should have been less than half that, she called A-1 again, who she says agreed to tear up the check. To be safe, Clark called her bank to stop payment on that second check, and says she learned the company had attempted to cash it, despite their promise to the contrary.

Clark’s F review is one of five F’s the D-rated company received in 2012, but A-1’s poor grades date back to 2006 with 20 F’s out of a total 37 reports. They say A-1 technicians misdiagnosed plumbing and HVAC problems and charged exorbitant rates for little work. According to Virginia Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation records, A-1 has 17 closed consumer complaints, resulting in five permit and contract violations, along with fines totaling some $3,200 since 2006. The Better Business Bureau gives the company an F rating, based on 61 complaints.

When asked about members’ complaints, Sonja Clemens, general manager for A-1, says the company’s policy is to ensure customer satisfaction. “It’s in our interest to get in touch with customers to look into the situations,” she says.

Virginia Beach members John and Inez Cipollone say they filed a complaint in 2010 after paying A-1 more than $1,700 to fix a leaking 
pipe. John says they needed a legible copy of the receipt for insurance, 
but A-1 refused until Angie’s List got involved. In October, Clemens sent 
the Cipollones’ receipt to their insurance company, the couple says, and they finally received a $250 refund. They dropped their complaint against A-1, but that doesn’t mean they’ll use the company again. “I’d be dubious,” Inez says. “Because of the nonsense they put us through.”

Arkidus Home Protection | Miami, Fla.

Chesapeake, Va., members Jacky Tuccillo and Dale Webster bought a $492 home warranty in May from then-highly rated Arkidus Home Protection, which provided services nationwide, but weeks later they say they learned the policy was worthless. “I tried to get ahold of the home warranty people, and within five minutes I knew we had been scammed,” Tuccillo says.

The pair’s F review is one of 50 F’s, and five D’s the D-rated home warranty company’s received since May, including four others in Virginia, with members saying Arkidus failed to provide promised services, didn’t respond to phone calls and emails and never provided promised refunds. The Miami-based company landed in the Penalty Box 23 times in 2012 after not responding to members’ complaints in 12 states.

In an email to Angie’s List Magazine, owner Reinaldo “Ray” Berges says Arkidus is out of business but consumers can email him for refunds. The company doesn’t hold the required home service contract provider license required to sell home warranties in Virginia. The state’s attorney general’s office says it received two complaints against Arkidus in 2012.

Hamilton Fence Co. | Chesapeake, Va.

Member Brian Mikkelson says he and his wife’s new home in Chesapeake, Va., needed a backyard fence for their two dogs, so they hired Hamilton Fence owner Chet Hamilton to do the work, paying about $7,400 in advance. More than a year later, Mikkelson says the fence remains unbuilt and he’s yet to receive a full refund. His F review landed Hamilton Fence in the Penalty Box in December 2011, one of three pending cases against the C-rated company, including one in July in which Chesapeake, Va., member Maureen Dickson writes in her D review that the company never installed the gates to her fence and left lumber in her yard. Hamilton Fence has four F’s and two D’s out of 14 reviews.

Hamilton, who’s properly licensed, says he’s been trying to address members’ complaints. “People are so quick to get on [Angie’s List] without talking to me,” he says, but adds that he appreciates their frustration. 
“I’m not the guy who is going to walk away and owe people money.”


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Best Norfolk-Virginia Beach Contractors of 2012

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Mid-Atlantic Exteriors owner Robert Norman says deck construction comprises about 75 percent of his business, followed by fencing and siding. (Photo courtesy of Robert Norman)
Mid-Atlantic Exteriors owner Robert Norman says deck construction comprises about 75 percent of his business, followed by fencing and siding. (Photo courtesy of Robert Norman)

Angie's List names the Best Norfolk-Virginia Beach Contractors of 2012 based on member reviews and ratings of local companies like roofers, HVAC and builders.

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