Contractors in general don’t have a very good reputation with the public. That’s probably not fair and yet there’s reasons why the stereotype persists.

Many times I have attempted to contact contracting companies for home projects of various sizes, including some that I know will cost several thousand dollars, only to have contractors either not call me back or disappear at some point in the process. I’ve had a patio and landscaping company schedule work only to postpone it twice before the owner stopped returning my calls. When I did reach him, he blamed that summer’s unusually wet weather. Fair enough, but the storms didn’t knock out phone service for a month.

Currently, we’re looking into remodeling our kitchen. We know it will be an expensive endeavor, so I thought we wouldn’t have too much trouble finding reliable contractors to perform the work. Wrong. Perhaps it’s a sign that the economy is strong or that many people who lack organizational skills go into contracting, but we’ve struck out with several companies that came with good reviews.

Most recently, the owner of one well-reviewed company came to our home to assess the project and schedule a visit to his showroom. The day of the visit, the company asked us to reschedule due to an unforeseen staff problem. So we rescheduled.

We did finally visit the showroom and spent more than an hour picking countertops and cabinets. We left with the understanding that we’d receive a detailed estimate within about 2 weeks. It’s been two months and we’re still waiting. I managed to reach the owner on his cellphone once about a month ago. He apologized and said we’d have it by the end of the week. I’m not sure which week “the week” is, but it’s nowhere in the near future, it seems.

Our most recently attempt involved calling another contracting company on the weekend, hoping they’d return the call the next Monday. To my surprise, an answering service representative picked up and took our information. But we still haven’t heard anything.

I should point out these situations have not included HVAC contractors. I have worked with several, ranging from large operations with a fleet of service trucks to a one-man operation and have been generally pleased with most of them.

But why does it seem so many contractors can’t seem to accomplish business basics, like returning phone calls? And for those of you who are good about running your businesses, do unreliable contractors, even if they are in industries other than HVAC, make life tougher for you?