I am willing to bet someone in ANY part of the country has, at one time or another, had a negative experience with a contractor. Sometime minor, sometimes catastrophic. Unfortunately, too many homeowners do not do enough research to ensure they are really hiring the most competent contractor. Or, they hire their neighbors "son, brother, cousin" with out doing any due diligence and/or they simply hire the contractor with the lowest bid.
All of these examples are a sure fire way to prompt the question you have posed. I have written blogs on this (having worked in renovation financing, remodeling business and acting as my own General Contractor as number of times, I do have a few tricks) and have a couple suggestions:
1). Get multiple referrals from past and current customers.
2). Find customers the contractor does not give you the names and addresses
3). Visit a work site/project in process. Is it orderly? Are the homeowners happy to the overall experience.
4). Check out Angie's List
5). Check licenses, insurance, liens, etc.
There are great contractors in all fields...and there are some not so great. Doing your due diligence will help avoid frustration.
All my best,