Glendale woman's $14,000 contractor nightmare began on 'Angie's List'

A Valley consumer says she paid for a subscription to Angie's List to find a contractor for her kitchen remodel, but it turns out he was a fraud.

There’s a long list of problems from Susie Williams' kitchen remodel. Some of the problems are cosmetic, but others are legitimate safety hazards due to electrical issues.

They’re all issues Williams thought she would avoid by hiring a contractor on Angie’s List, a paid subscription site of consumer reviews that will “help you get the job done right, guaranteed," as the commercial says.

“I believed Angie’s List, that they do the work for you,” said Susie Williams, a Glendale resident. “They check these contractors out.”

So, she hired Terry Thrower of Thrower Home Improvement, recommended by Angie’s List, and work began in her kitchen.

“I would never have hired this man if I hadn’t seen Angie on the TV screen telling me that they do the work for me,” said Williams.

What she didn’t realize was that, despite being at the top of Angie’s List, Thrower had an expired license with the Arizona Registrar of Contractors and an ‘F’ rating with the Arizona Better Business Bureau.

“He’s doing plumbing. He’s doing electricity when in fact he doesn’t have a license to do any of that,” said Williams.

When she went back to Angie’s List about the problems with her kitchen, the company contacted Thrower, who offered to come back to correct the problems.

But Angie’s List said, “Without proper licensing, we did not feel that was a good solution, nor did the member.”

“And that’s where they left it,” said Williams. “They said ‘You’re kind of on your own.'”

Consumer Reports recently reviewed online home-services directories, like Angie’s List, warning that contractors who advertise on Angie’s List often show up first in search results.

Williams thinks Terry Thrower paid for his top spot with the site.

“I ended up paying this guy $14,300 all told,” said Williams.

Then she had to shell out even more money to get the major damage fixed.

“I got pretty screwed,” she said.

Call 12 for Action gets calls throughout the year about unlicensed contractors.

That’s why, whether or not you use a third party like Angie’s List or even word-of-mouth reviews, the best advice is to research the company yourself.

“Always, if it’s a contractor, check with the Registrar of Contractors,” said Roy, a Call 12 for Action volunteer investigator. “Make sure it is a current license they have before you give them any money.”

PHOTOS: Issues with Williams' home improvement project

As far as the Angie’s List Guarantee, the company says the guarantee began on October 19, 2015. Since Williams hired Thrower in 2014, the guarantee doesn’t apply.

“I would appeal to the folks at Angie’s List to pay me back my money so I can get my kitchen fixed,” she said.

Call 12 for Action reached out to Angie’s List about the issue. Here is the statement sent by Cheryl Reed, Director of External Communications for Angie’s List:

“We are disappointed that we couldn’t favorably resolve this issue when it arose two years ago. The company, which had a record of high grades for its work prior to this case, remains excluded from our search results because, even though the company attested that it was properly licensed to perform the work, our audit could not confirm this to be the case. The company had offered to return to correct problems with the project, but without proper licensing, we did not feel that was a good solution, nor did the member. We are disappointed the company has not refunded her money and continue to withhold this company from search results.”

In the meantime, it appears Terry Thrower has started a new company: Your Best Handyman. Information posted online indicates the company specializes in “landscaping, home additions, home renovations, electrical, dryer vent cleaning, baby proofing, grab bar installations, tile repair and installation, plumbing repairs, roofing repairs, painting -- interior and exterior, flooring, stucco repairs, drywall repairs and all your around the house projects.”

But Thrower is still listed on the Arizona Registrar of Contractor's website as having an “expired license.”

Call 12 for Action tried calling Thrower several times at the number listed online, but was unable to reach him.
Williams is still frustrated at the response from Angie’s List and she has a message for other consumers out there.

“I’d say 'Don’t use Angie’s List,'” she said..

If you have a consumer complaint, Call 12 for Action. Our volunteer investigators are available to take your call Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. - 1 p.m. at 1-800-260-1212 or 602-260-1212. You can also file your complaint online.

Copyright 2016 KPNX


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