Recognize The Rip-Offs
There are three kinds of home repair contractors. First, are those who operate with the highest caliber of professionalism and integrity. They offer value for money spent, treat their customers like family and do everything possible to make it easy to do business with them. Like Dutton Plumbing.
A second category consists of those who are proficient in a trade and mean to do well but lack the business knowledge to serve their customers properly. They are not bad people, they just don’t understand how to run a business. They may try to do a good job, but when something goes wrong and they are in danger of losing money, they cut corners, hide from customers and make excuses rather than tackle the problem. Unfortunately, this describes many home repair contractors.
Finally, we come to the really bad guys. These are the unscrupulous con artists – usually one- or two-person operations – who consciously aim to rip off homeowners. These crooks prey on the elderly in particular. Here are some of the ways you can spot them:
- They contact you or come to your home uninvited. They may say something like, “We are working in your neighborhood and noticed that your driveway/roof/sewer/whatever is in need of repair. Since we are in the vicinity we can fix it for a bargain price.” Watch out especially for the storm chasers, who come around after a damaging storm with this kind of pitch.
- They try to scare you with high-pressure sales pitches saying you or your property is in serious danger if you don’t make immediate repairs.
- They pressure you into signing a contract right now.
- They usually quote prices that are way lower than anyone else can offer.
- They prefer cash payment up front and may even offer to drive you to your bank or an ATM to obtain the money.
- They have no website or business address except maybe a P.O. box. Phone calls get routed to an answering machine and calls seldom if ever get returned. Their vehicles have no business insignia.
- They make excuses if asked to produce a license or insurance information. However, they may provide references, who turn out to be family members or accomplices pretending to be satisfied customers. References alone do not signal a legitimate operation.
- Sometimes they work in tandem. While one person talks to you about the job, another may ask to use your bathroom, get a drink of water or otherwise gain access to your home, which he will search for valuables while you are engaged in conversation.
Heed these warning signs that the contractor is someone you don’t want anywhere near your home. Never do business with someone who contacts you out of the blue to do work you didn’t even know needed to be done. Before hiring any contractor, do some homework and make sure the company is properly licensed, insured and reputable.
We at Dutton Plumbing hate these buzzards. They breed mistrust and pollute the business environment for all of us who operate honestly and bend over backwards to satisfy our customers. Please do yourself and us a favor and report any encounters with the rip-offs to law enforcement authorities.