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Categorized | Business

Beware of storm chasers

From the Better Business Bureau

The recent damage done by the flooding and heavy rains through West Michigan brings out the best in people, as strangers reach out to help others in need. Unfortunately, the aftermath of a crisis also brings out contractors who take advantage of those who have already been victimized.

As a follow up, your Better Business Bureau is warning local residents affected by the recent flooding to beware of out-of-town and under-qualified repair companies soliciting business.

“It is not uncommon for out-of-town storm chasers to solicit business after storms like the ones we had last week,” said Phil Catlett, President of the Better Business Bureau. “Storm chasers may not have proper licensure and may offer quick fixes or make big promises which they won’t deliver.”

Your BBB offers the following tips for storm victims:

Know your rights and responsibilities http://www.michigan.gov/mshda/.

Contractors must be registered with the State of Michigan. Call (517) 241-9288 or check them online at https://www2.dleg.state.mi.us/ to determine if a contractor is registered.

Try to get at least 3-4 quotes from contractors, and insist that payments be made to the company, not an individual.

Do not pay for the job in advance. Be wary of any contractor who demands full or half payment upfront.

Resist high-pressure sales tactics such as the “good deal” you’ll get only if you hire the contractor on the spot.

Pay by credit card, if possible; you may have additional protection if there’s a problem.

Check that the contractor’s vehicle has signs or markings on it with the business name, phone number and license plates for your state.

Many cities and townships require a solicitation permit if sales people go door-to-door. Verify that they need to have a permit by contacting your local Township or Municipality. BBB suggests consumers be pro-active in selecting a contractor and not re-active to sales calls on the phone or door-to-door pitches.

While most contractors abide by the law, be careful allowing someone you do not know inspect your roof or basement. An unethical contractor may actually create damage to get work.

Get a written contract that specifies the price, the work to be done, the amount of liability insurance coverage maintained by the contractor, and a time frame. Require a copy of their current certificate of insurance.

BBB is also warning area contractors to beware of storm chasers who are willing to pay local construction companies substantial amounts of money to use a local business’s established name, reputation and phone so they can masquerade as a local business

We have seen this happen in other areas of the country. After doing repairs paid by insurance companies, the out-of-state contractors left the area. Many contractors who agreed to let these storm chasers use their name regret their decision once they were left holding the bag of unsatisfied customers due to bad workmanship and/or unfulfilled warranties.

Disaster victims should never feel forced to make a hasty decision or to choose an unknown contractor. Start With Trust. For reliable information, lists of BBB Accredited Businesses by industry and BBB Business Reviews you can trust on local businesses visit www.bbb.org or call (616) 774-8236.

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