One day after large hail, high winds and at least one tornado blew through Central Texas, some area residents and business owners will be out surveying the damage and trying to determine how to proceed with clean-up efforts.
Better Business Bureau (BBB) serving Central, Coastal, Southwest Texas and the Permian Basin advises property owners to reduce the chances of even more problems by choosing repair businesses carefully. It’s not unusual after a damaging storm for unreliable contractors to target customers who need repairs. Some may even be “storm chasers” from out of town who take money up front, but do unsatisfactory work or leave jobs unfinished – or not started at all.
To help customers find trustworthy repair services, BBB has the following advice:
Check with your insurance company as soon as possible to ask about policy coverage and how to file a claim. If you must make temporary repairs to prevent further damage, be sure to keep receipts.
Know the business you're dealing with. It's a good idea to get two or three bids, and compare materials, services, and guarantees, not just the price. Ask for customer references directly from the business. Finally, check out the business with your BBB at www.bbb.org/central-texas. Type the business name in the search tool, and you’ll be directed to the business’s BBB Business Review, where you will find complaint information, details about those complaints, advertising-related issues and ownership information.
Be on alert for home repair contractors or car dent repair services who pour into town after a storm. Some home repair services charge high prices for shoddy work, or leave jobs unfinished. Be cautious of contractors who solicit business door-to-door with vague information, don't provide a physical address or phone, use scare tactics ("That chimney's about to fall") or even use high pressure sales to encourage you to pay up ("This price is good today only"). Pop-up car dent repair shops might appear in parking lots. Make sure you research the business that's offering the dent repair service, as well as the terms of any guarantees offered, if any.
Read and understand the contract and guarantee. Make sure you get a written estimate and contract. The contract should include a written description of the work to be done, and the price of labor and materials. If the company makes any verbal promises (such as "We'll take away the cut tree limbs"), make sure they are in writing. The guarantee should describe what's covered by the guarantee, for how long, and what the company will do to honor those promises.
Keep down payments reasonable. It's possible that a repair service will ask for some money down. But if you're not comfortable with the amount requested, ask the company to agree on a smaller down payment or look for a contractor who doesn't ask for a down payment. Never pay the entire amount in advance. Payments should be made after a specified amount of work is completed. Make payments by credit card or by check made out to the company, not in cash.
Don't make the final payment or sign a completion agreement until all the work is done to your satisfaction. Don't fall for high pressure or promises to return and take care of final details. It may be difficult to get the company to return once the job is paid for and signed off.
File a complaint if needed. First try to work out problems directly with the business. If a problem is not resolved, file a complaint with your BBB at bbb.org/central-texas.
Find a BBB Accredited Business. Want to find BBB Accredited Businesses in the type of category you need? Use the BBB Accredited Business Directory. Start at bbb.org/central-texas and click on the “BBB Accredited Business Directory" featured picture in the center of the website. Then, type in the category you’re looking for in the search section under “View Accredited Business Directory listing for:”
These are just some of the available categories:
BBB Accreditation means that the BBB Accredited Business agrees to abide by BBB’s Standards for Trust. For a list of those standards, click here.
Try BBB’s “Request a Quote” service. Ask for information or bids on the service you need directly from BBB Accredited Businesses. Go to the BBB Business Review on a BBB Accredited Business or to a listing in the BBB Accredited Business Directory and click on “Request a Quote.”