CSLB Issues Statewide Consumer Alert about Electrical Repair Company
Company uses various names and extensive phone book ads to lure unsuspecting consumers
Sacramento —The Contractors State License Board (CSLB) is warning California consumers about an electrical repair company operating around the state, especially in the major metropolitan areas, under a number of different names. It's believed that the company solicits business by taking out a large number of advertisements, many full-page, in telephone directories under different names that include:
|Company Name||City of Record||License #|
|"American Plumbing & Electric"||Sacramento||834206|
|"59 Minute Service"||Sacramento||837697|
The ads claim low fees and service charges. But, once at the house, the service technician pressures the customer into unneeded repairs. In the more than 65 complaints filed with the CSLB, the average cost for a service call and repairs is more than $1,000.
CSLB's four-month undercover investigation found that calls to the various phone numbers resulted in a service response from an individual from a company with a completely different business name, including those of licensed and reputable companies. During the undercover operations, the unlicensed technicians followed the same pattern as found in the complaints. On April 19th, CSLB investigators conducted simultaneous sting operations around the state. At those stings, seven individuals responding to service calls were arrested and now face misdemeanor charges for violating contractor laws, including contracting without a license and/or being an unregistered salesperson.
USA Services had its license suspended in 2006 and is the subject of an accusation intended to discipline that license. CSLB investigators are also looking into the possibility that there may be a connection to other companies whose licenses have been revoked by the CSLB.
"We believe these individuals are trying to skirt the law by claiming to be a referral service," said CSLB Registrar Steve Sands. "What they advertise in the phone book and what they actually do may not be the same thing."
The companies look like reputable electrical repair companies, but usually attract vulnerable individuals, like the elderly, who are more likely to use a phone book rather than other sources to find repair services. This is also a method used by the majority of consumers who need to find a technician in a hurry if their power has gone out.
The CSLB urges all consumers to pre-qualify and establish a relationship with an electrical repair company now, before they have an emergency.
- Ask family, friends and neighbors for recommendations of companies they've used and had a good experience with.
- Make sure the company is licensed, and make sure the technician who comes to your house is from the same company you called.
- Check out company's license status at www.cslb.ca.gov or call 1-800-321-CSLB (2752).
- If the electrician is an employee of the licensed electrical contractor, make sure they are certified by the California Department of Industrial Relations' Division of Apprenticeship Standards.
- Hire the company to perform a simple job or a diagnostic test of your electrical system. Get a feel for their professionalism and thoroughness. This small investment could save you a lot of money in an emergency.
- Don't pay the technician in cash - use only personal checks from an established account or a credit card.
- Avoid companies that advertise without a physical business address.
- Watch out for high pressure or scare tactics, like claiming a fire danger.
- Consider getting a second opinion if the technician claims that additional major repairs are needed.
Consumers who think they have been taken advantage of by a company matching the description described above should download and file a complaint form from the CSLB website or by calling the CSLB at 1-800-321-CSLB (2752). Consumers can get more information and tips on the website or by telephone.
The CSLB believes the company is also operating in the state of Nevada and other states, and is working with officials from the Nevada State Contractors Board on that part of the investigation.
The Contractors State License Board operates under the umbrella of the California Department of Consumer Affairs. The CSLB licenses and regulates California's 307,000 contractors, and investigates more than 20,000 complaints against contractors annually. In fiscal year 2005-06, the CSLB helped consumers get more than $36 million in restitution.
The Nevada State Contractors Board revoked the license of USA Plumbing & Electrical and issued a homeowner alert in March 30, 2007, for a company operating under the names of 59 Minute Services, 1 Hour Response and USA Home Services.
|Company Name||License #||Address of Record||Personnel List|
|USA Services, Inc.
|775863||900 E. Hamilton Avenue, Suite 100
Campbell, CA 95008
|Estine Akopyan||Chief Executive Officer
|American Home Repairs, Inc.
American Plumbing & Electric
|834206||777 Campus Commons Road, #200
Sacramento, CA 95825
Russel Pal-A Gillies
|Responsible Managing Officer
Responsible Managing Officer
|RMM Plumbing & Electrical, Inc.
|833296||3017 Douglas Blvd., #300
Roseville, CA 95661
|Seroj Avedian||Responsible Managing Officer|
|Speedy Plumbing & Electrical, Inc.
59 Minute Service
|837697||777 Campus Commons Road, #200
Sacramento, CA 95825
|Ivica Johan Njegovec||Responsible Managing Officer|
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