BBB is beginning to receive calls regarding individuals going door-to-door offering a variety of home or yard improvement services at a supposed discounted rate. The Better Business Bureau serving Western Michigan wants to remind homeowners to beware of scam artists and untrustworthy contractors.
Your BBB heard from a West Michigan consumer today who informed our office that he received unsolicited visitors this morning. Two men pulled up to his home in a small, old model unmarked white pick-up. One man knocked on the door and provided his name, but no company name. He said he was working on a neighbor’s house and noticed that bricks had fallen off the chimney. He said he would be able to fix it, plus add a cap to the chimney. The resident stated he would first want to check out his business with the BBB. The man stated he would be able to do it right then. The consumer asked for a business card; however, the man did not provide one and left.
This is a typical scenario; itinerant workers often show up unannounced and offer to re-surface parking lots or driveways, perform roof repair, painting services, brick work, tree trimming or cutting, or other home improvement jobs. Typically, these fly by night companies offer to do the job with leftover materials from a previous job, use high pressure tactics and trick you into thinking they offer a discount price. They have no physical location in the area and use poor quality materials. They do not pay local taxes and take discretionary income that could be better spent on local businesses.
Often these companies claim their prices are lower than any local bid, but a little checking around may prove otherwise. If they do offer you the lowest price, don’t assume it to be the best deal. Keep in mind that there is a lot more to a purchase than the price. No matter how good the price, should you do business with a company that will not be here tomorrow to hear your concerns or honor a warranty?
The BBB’s best advice is to check out all solicitations at the Better Business Bureau before you do business with anyone. Never pay upfront and never sign a contract without reading and understanding it.
Before you deal with a company you don’t know, or are unsure of:
1. Call the BBB for a report on the company, BEFORE opening your wallet. Phones are open 24 hours at 616-774-8236 or 1-800-684-3222 and reports are available online at www.westernmichigan.bbb.org. Get some answers before you do something as personal as opening your wallet to a stranger!
2. Verify that any contractor you are considering doing business with is properly licensed, bonded and insured and registered at the BBB.
3. Obtain bids from several companies. Compare apples to apples. Review the bids and remember the lowest bid is not always the best price.
4. Call the BBB and comparison shop with local, well known, reputable companies. The BBB can provide a list of industry specific businesses that are accredited by the BBB.
5. Don’t fall prey to high pressure tactics such as “this is the only chance you’ll have” or “by tomorrow the extra materials will be gone,” or “I’m only in this area today.” A legitimate company will be here when you’re ready to buy and they will be more than willing to allow you time to check them out. If they don’t, let that be a warning sign.
Before you do business with a company you don’t know, or are unsure of, pay for anything, or sign a contract, call the Better Business Bureau; that’s what we’re here for.