Worst Phoenix Contractors of 2011

Worst Phoenix Contractors of 2011

Exterior Designs of Arizona | Phoenix

The Arizona Registrar of Contractors revoked Exterior Designs' contractor licenses a total of 29 times in the last two years after numerous consumers complained that the company did shoddy work or abandoned jobs before they were complete.

ROC spokesman Tyler Palmer says his office allows licenses to be revoked more than once for separate complaints, but Exterior Designs must address all complaints before its licenses for painting and wall covering, limited remodeling and repair, and general remodeling and repair are reinstated.

About 100 consumers have complained to the ROC about Exterior Designs and its owner, Tiffany Noonan, since 2006, Palmer says, and the state's paid more than $85,000 in restitution to the company's victims. Homeowners are eligible for restitution from the ROC's recovery fund if they hire licensed contractors to do the initial work and those contractors then refuse to resolve problems.

Kristel Wheeler of Phoenix says she hired Exterior Designs, who had an A rating on the List at the time, to landscape her backyard, stucco the house and patch the concrete foundation. She spent $7,900 and says the company did terrible work.

"They put a concrete curb around my house that blocked the RV and backyard gates, and it looked like it was done when somebody was drunk," Wheeler says. After several months of negotiations through her lawyer, she managed to get the company to repair the work - more or less. "It looks good enough, but I'm not terribly happy with it," she says.

The C-rated company has three reports. A notice on the company's AL profile alerts members to the license revocations. Noonan could not be reached as the company's phone numbers are disconnected.

Shepherd's Home Service/ Economy Mobile Home Service | Maricopa County, Ariz.

Jeffrey Jones, currently listed as one of the state's most wanted unlicensed contractors by the ROC, pleaded guilty in November to felony fraudulent scheming. According to the state's licensing board, Jones and his accomplice, Abe Shepherd, worked together to solicit large deposits from elderly homeowners on various home improvement projects, but did substandard or no work at all.

In exchange for Jones' guilty plea, prosecutors dropped two charges of theft and four charges of unlicensed contracting. At press time, he remained in Maricopa County Jail and faced up to seven years in prison at his Dec. 14 sentencing.

Authorities say Shepherd remains at large with a warrant for his arrest on felony charges of theft and fraudulent scheming. He's also listed as "most wanted" by the Arizona Registrar of Contractors.

Tyler Palmer, ROC spokesman, says 17 people complained about Jones and Shepherd, reporting losses ranging from $800 to $27,000. Neither man holds a state contractor's license, as required by law. The pair, using the company names Shepherd's Home Service and Economy Mobile Home Service, tend to target elderly homeowners who stay in Arizona during the winter, he says.

"They'll go door to door, say 'I noticed your home needs a repair,' and take a deposit or the whole payment," Palmer says. "They do either very little work or take the money and never come back. The complaints go back to 1997, but we got five complaints in 2010."

Barbara Price of Mesa, who's in her 70s, says the pair targeted her twice. She paid Jones $2,500 to repair a squeaky floor, and he crawled under the house to supposedly replace pylons. Later, the noise got worse, but she says Jones never answered her calls.

A few months later, she paid Shepherd $5,000 to fix the floor. Price says he tore a few holes and never came back. "I talked to Abe for hours and never suspected anything," she says.

Palmer says Shepherd may be working in Texas. Jones' attorney did not return calls.

Abode Air | Tempe, Ariz.

The state licensing board revoked Abode Air's HVAC contractor license in September after receiving 70 complaints from homeowners. "People would complain that they'd come out, break something, and then tell the homeowner they needed a repair," the ROC's Tyler Palmer says. "They'd install parts that didn't need to be installed, then submit a bill."

The Arizona attorney general also received hundreds of complaints about the company's telephone solicitation tactics. In September, a judge granted the AG's request for an injunction to stop Abode Air and its owner, Ron Dew, from all telephone solicitations. The AG is seeking a permanent injunction and civil penalties.

Angie's List member Terri Hardison of Mesa complained to the AG after receiving countless calls. "Rude salespeople would repeatedly call at all hours," she says. "I'm thrilled that the state finally stepped in and did something."

A notice alerts members to the D-rated company's license revocation. Abode Air, whose phone is disconnected, couldn't be reached for comment.

Zen Air/T and M Air Solutions | Scottsdale, Ariz.

Angie's List member Kim Swanstrom of Chandler says she paid Zen Air $4,800 to install an HVAC unit and maintain a 10-year service agreement, but she later learned they damaged her attic and installed a faulty system. "We could have gotten carbon monoxide poisoning or had an explosion from leaking gas," she says.

ROC spokesman Tyler Palmer says the state suspended Zen Air's license in October because the company allowed its bond to lapse. Palmer says Zen Air and its owners, Thierry Gerard and Marilena Popa, failed to respond to four open complaints about poor work, property damage and job abandonment. If they don't respond by Dec. 19, their license will be fully revoked.

The F-rated company, which also does business as T and M Air Solutions, according to the ROC, has a notice on its profile to alert members. Zen Air, whose phone is disconnected. couldn't be reached for comment.

- by Paul F.P. Pogue

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