July 18, 2012

The Better Business Bureau serving Ashland, Medina, Portage, Richland, Summit & Wayne Counties is warning residents to use caution when hiring companies to make repairs in the wake of damaging storms that moved through the area this past week.

Some residents might have been dealing with tree damage, flooded basements, electrical issues, or damage to roofs and siding. Storms like these often attract traveling workers offering their services, commonly known as ‘storm chasers.’ The BBB is urging consumers to use caution when hiring these companies, as not all of them are reputable and have questionable business practices.

"Storm chasers" typically drive trucks with out-of-state license plates. They sometimes canvass the area with flyers advertising their services, offering to work with insurance companies, or going from door to door offering their services. "While some of these contractors may offer a low price and fast repairs, some may not stand behind their work,” said Sandy Gamby, Director of Operations of Better Business Bureau serving Ashland, Medina, Portage, Richland, Summit & Wayne Counties. "If they are from out of state, who will service the warranty if problems arise later? Consumers should ask questions."

BBB cautions those affected by weather disasters not to make quick decisions when it comes to storm damage repair. It pays to do your homework and find one of the many reputable local contractors that can make repairs and still be around for service after the job is complete.

Tips for Hiring a Company to Repair Storm Damage:

· Get the company's complete name, address and phone number. Be skeptical of any vague or hesitant answers, or no offers of contracts, brochures, or anything in writing. Beware of high-pressure sales tactics. A reputable company will let you check them out first.

· Check out the business with the Better Business Bureau by calling (800) 825-8887 toll-free, or by visiting It is fast, easy and free.

· Verify that the company has liability and worker's comp insurance. If a contractor cannot provide proof of it, beware.

· If it is an out-of-town or out-of-state company, ask how any warranty issues or problems will be addressed long after the work is done - and the company is gone.

· Ask for references from previous jobs and check them out before signing the contract.

· Before work starts, have a signed, written contract including start and completion dates, exact costs, specific work to be done, and warranty information. Read fine print carefully and understand all terms before signing.

· If you have damage, check with your homeowners' insurance agency to have an adjuster sent to determine if and how much they will cover to repair or replace damaged property.

· Be highly suspicious of any contractor who asks you to pay for the entire job upfront. He may take your money and never return. It might be okay to pay a deposit for certain jobs. Check with a trusted friend, relative or your insurance agent to see if payment of a deposit is customary for your particular job.

· Make sure your contractor pulls all the appropriate permits for the work they are doing.

Disaster victims should never feel forced to make a hasty decision or to choose an unknown contractor. For trustworthy consumer tips, information and business reviews visit or call (330) 253-4590.