A sting operation that landed five Indianapolis-area contractors in trouble with local licensing authorities should be a wake-up call to contractors and consumers alike, according to Angie’s List, the nation’s premier provider of consumer reviews.
The Indianapolis Department of Code Enforcement worked with local organizations, including Angie’s List, to develop a list of contractors with a history of consumer complaints and who were suspected of working without proper licenses. The department called companies from that list to a home in need of plumbing and heating and air conditioning work that would have required a license.
Five contractors, including two with reviews on Angie’s List, showed up at the home to see the potential job. Some contractors expected to show, did not. One texted to cancel — saying he’d learned he needed to be licensed and couldn’t perform the work. The five who showed up and said they wanted the job – and whom the department identified as unlicensed – received citations and were fined.
“There are lots of great companies out there who do good work and diligently follow licensing laws and regulations,” said Angie’s List Founder Angie Hicks. “Efforts like this help consumers avoid those companies that don’t. We hope to see more efforts like these in the future.”
Angie’s List, has collected consumer reviews on local home improvement specialists for 16 years. The company requires companies rated on Angie’s List to attest to whether they hold a valid license for their trade, and periodically audits the information to ensure it is correct.
“Licensing laws vary so much from community to community that only the regulatory authorities know who is properly licensed,” Hicks said. “We encourage consumers to check on license validity before hiring anyone. If a company isn’t properly licensed, that’s a red flag and you should move on to one that is.”
To alert consumers to the operation and to continue to highlight the importance of proper licensure, Angie’s List also added a notice to the two companies cited that have been reviewed by Angie’s List members. The profiles for G & L Electric and for Goodbar Mechanical Heating & Cooling now carry a notice informing members of their license status.
The other companies receiving citations – McGowen Electric, Lifetime Electric, and Phenomenunn Electric – do not have reports on Angie’s List. Angie’s List added the licensure notice to their company profiles to be sure members see the information before they make their hiring decisions.
The notice means the companies will not appear as choices for members to hire when they search plumbing and HVAC categories for potential hires. If the companies can prove they hold valid licenses, that notice will be rescinded and the companies will appear in search results.
In addition to the notices, Angie’s List posted an article to its magazine website describing the operation.
When a contractor obtains a required trade license, it typically means he or she has passed competency tests and provided proof of insurance or bonding, and often both. Even mandated registration usually offers at least one or more of these consumer protections. Angie’s List expects contractors to be in compliance with any law or regulation governing their trade and considers noncompliance to be an indication they may not follow other quality work standards.
In Indiana, state officials oversee plumbing licensure. Other trades are administered at the local level. In Indianapolis, electrical, wrecking, heating and cooling, and general contractors performing construction must obtain a license.
Indianapolis residents who have questions about trade licensing should contact the Department of Code Enforcement at (317) 327-4316 or email@example.com.
Angie’s List collects consumer reviews on local contractors and doctors in more than 500 service categories. Currently, more than 1.5 million consumers across the U.S. and Canada rely on Angie’s List to help them make the best hiring decisions. Members get unlimited access to local ratings via Internet or phone, exclusive discounts, the Angie’s List magazine and help from the Angie’s List complaint resolution service. Take a quick tour of Angie’s List and view the latest Angie’s List news.