Worst Tampa Contractors of 2012

Worst Tampa Contractors of 2012

World Class Heating & Cooling | Clearwater, Fla.

World Class Heating & CoolingSt. Petersburg, Fla. Angie's List member Jim Sullivan (pictured) says World Class Heating’s owner told him he should throw away the warranty he purchased from them. (Photo by Jon Zambito)

Before joining Angie’s List, Carol Ann Fratina of Sun City Center, Fla., says she paid Clearwater, Fla.-based World Class Heating & Cooling $4,200 over the course of a two-year service contract but believes they didn’t complete work they charged her for. When her unit broke in 2011, she says nobody at World Class answered the phone when she called for help. She says she hired another company to fix it, and they told her she’d been overcharged. “The A/C was covered in oil, rust and mold, even though I’d only had it three years,” she says. Fratina learned upon joining the List that the company has an overall D from members, based on 11 reviews, including two in 2012.

The company responded by calling Fratina’s allegations “ridiculous.”

“We’re a reputable company,” World Class owner Tom Pursley told Angie’s List Magazine. “We’ve handled every one of these complaints.” Fratina doesn’t agree, nor does Jim Sullivan. The St. Petersburg, Fla., member says he paid World Class $5,400 in 2010 to install a new A/C. He says the company still won’t honor the warranty he purchased.

State records indicate the company holds a Florida air-conditioning license. According to Pinellas County, Fla., regulators, Thomas Hackney, who as qualifier was responsible for all work done under the license, withdrew his name from the county registration on Aug. 9. Hackney declined comment. Pinellas County authorities say the company couldn’t legally work there until the company reactivated the registration on Oct. 1.

Court records indicate in April, Mary Williams filed suit against World Class in Pinellas County court for business malpractice. Her attorney declined comment, and the case remains pending.

Benedict Builders | Port Richey, Fla.

Ricky Lee BenedictRicky Lee Benedict (Photo courtesy of Pasco Co. Sheriff)

Benedict Builders Owner Ricky Lee Benedict pleaded guilty to one felony and faces charges for another for taking money and not completing work on high-dollar building projects, court records show.

Christopher Torrioni of Odessa, Fla., says he hired Benedict in 2011 to build a house, but Benedict kept $140,000 that was meant to pay for subcontractors and failed to finish the work. “It was the most horrendous thing I’ve ever gone through,” Torrioni says. “My interior designer told me the plans weren’t finished and wondered how he ever got permits. It turned out he hadn’t gotten permits. I took him off the job, and he refused to give me my money back. The subcontractors started filing liens against my house. I’ve lost about $300,000 in between the money I’ve paid him and what I had to pay to get the liens removed.”

Torrioni says he complained to the Pasco County Sheriff, who arrested Benedict in November 2011. Court records indicate he faced a felony count of grand theft during a trial scheduled for Nov. 30 in Pasco County, Fla., and he remains free on $10,000 bail. In Hernando County, Fla., court records show Benedict pleaded no contest to felony fraud and received a sentence of five years probation and $10,000 restitution.

Federal court records show Benedict filed for bankruptcy in 2011, citing $128,000 in unpaid debts. He failed to appear for several creditor’s meetings and still hasn’t produced financial documents as ordered by the judge, according to court records.

Torrioni says he eventually completed his house, but only after paying the subcontractors and hiring another contractor to finish the work. “Unless Benedict coughs up a significant amount of money, I want him to sit in jail,” Torrioni says. “He’s wreaked havoc in my life.”

Benedict held a state contractor’s license, but state officials say they revoked it in October after receiving complaints about shoddy work and forged lien waivers. Neither Benedict nor his attorney, Brian Mulligan, responded to requests for comment.

BishopMac | Brandon, Fla.

BishopMac landed in the Penalty Box in February after failing to respond to a complaint of shoddy work and leaving a job undone — one of three complaints in the past two years against the remodeling company and owner Robert McElhatten. Angie's LIst member Sandra Gunn of Valrico, Fla.,  says she gave him two payments totaling $8,000 in advance for a bathroom remodeling job in 2011. “After he laid the marble tile and received the second draw, it was evident he wasn’t going to return,” she says. “I had to re-buy the fixtures and pay another contractor to finish the job.”

The company received three reviews in 2011 and 2012, all of them negative, and holds an overall F on Angie’s List. All three jobs took place in Hillsborough County, Fla., where remodeling work of this scope requires a contractor’s license, according to county code. Neither BishopMac nor McElhatten holds a license, according to county and state records. McElhatten didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Horizon Cleaning Service | Clearwater, Fla.

Sarasota, Fla., Angie's List member Marjorie McKeever says she responded to a Horizon Cleaning Service flier advertising a five-room carpet cleaning for $34.75, but soon found herself subjected to bait-and-switch maneuvers to raise the price once they got into her home. She says the worker insisted on doing a demonstration of a steamcleaning process and tried to hike the price to $350. “He got very belligerent and loud when I told him I wouldn’t let him do the demonstration,” she says.

The tech started cleaning, but she threw him out when it became clear to her and her son-in-law, a former carpet cleaner, that he didn’t know what he was doing, says McKeever, adding that she joined Angie’s List as a result of the experience. The company holds a D rating based on 7 reviews. State records indicate the same individuals owned BK Carpet & Restoration at the same address, which holds an F rating based on 7 reviews. The company didn’t return calls seeking comment.


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Comments

Courtney

Subject: World Class Heating...do not use

They continusously call throughout the day until they reach someone. I asked for them not to call back in September, they continued to call and got another call today around 11AM. Spoke to a manager and told them I do not want any future calls. They said they would take me off the list, and again at 2pm another phone call Spoke with the GM and she said that because I am a "customer" they can continue to call me (but she would take me off the list).

Chris

Subject: Scams

They are not making money cleaning 5 rooms for $35. Of course they are wanting to sell more expensive services. You became a victim the soon as you called their number. A little thinking saves a bunch of trouble.

Other scams: vent / duct cleaning. A/C service checks. All these are garbage. And don't forget the old water testing / water softener scam. Don't be a victim. Avoid these clowns.

Life Trust

Subject: Qualifier

The qualifier is legally responsible for supervision and moneys (unless they have a financial officer listed). The state needs to prosecute them and there would be less people renting out their licences. Subcontractors are held to a higher standard than the building contractor for some reason (better lobbyists).

terre tulsiak

Subject: contractor licensing

While 'they' say you need a licensed contractor, the person holding the license need never show their face, as long as they make someone a QUALIFIER. They are off the hook and the guy who did the work has no license to lose.

ingrid

Subject: No Consumer Protection in Florida

The conservative legislature does not believe in consumer protection and has made the one consumer protection agency a weak as a sick kitten. they consider C.P. regulation of business which they oppose.
Though it is illegal NOT to have a contractor's license, it is only a misdemeanor and can take a year of contacts to get the State to act.
Sinkhole repair is one of the biggest ripoffs of contractors.
Florida is the center of consumer abuses, ignored by authorities.

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