BBB Urges Caution With Door-to-Door Contractors

  
     
May 14, 2014

BBB URGES CAUTION WITH DOOR-TO-DOOR CONTRACTORS

“Lurking,” “Pity” Tales, Scare Tactics are Red Flags

(Lexington, KY) – Warm weather is finally here, and Better Business Bureau serving Central & Eastern Kentucky is warning homeowners to be aware of possibly fraudulent traveling contractors showing up at their doors using suspicious tactics in offering home repairs and improvements.    

 "Each year we hear from homeowners who trusted the friendly guy with the truck at their door who was ready to start right away," said Jack Frank, BBB President & CEO. "Unfortunately, some of those residents found that the work they were told was performed was sub-par or not really done at all.  They had no written contract, were left with no contact address, and nothing but a cell phone number where their calls were unanswered…and no way to reach the workers. They had to pay more money to hire someone to finish or redo the job."

 BBB advises checking out a business' BBB Review before hiring. Get a list of BBB Accredited Businesses in the category you need. These businesses meet strict BBB standards and have committed to responding to customer complaints.  Call (859) 259-1008, 1-800-866-6668 or search at www.bbb.org/lexington.  Seek several estimates.  Insist upon proof of liability/workers compensation insurance, licensing (if required), and a written contract for the work and any warranties.  Ask for and verify references.  If the business is from out of state, ask how warranty issues will be handled.  Contractors working in Fayette County are required by local ordinance to be registered with the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government Division of Building Inspection in the Contractor’s Registration Program (call 859-258-3770).

 Not all contractors that go door-to-door soliciting business are fraudulent.  Reputable contractors will leave their complete contact information, proof of insurance and any needed licensing, and will welcome you to do your research first.  Here are some classic tactics used by potentially fraudulent traveling home repair workers reported to your BBB in the past by homeowners that should cause further investigation:

  • "I am doing work for your neighbors." – If that's true, they will offer those neighbors' names and addresses.  If they cannot/will not, watch out. Verify it first.
  • "Lurking." Some homeowners have reported being approached by men driving slowly through neighborhoods, or getting out of trucks parked out front as if they were waiting for the homeowners to come out of the house to leave, get the mail, etc.
  • Scare tactics.  Senior citizens in particular have reported contractors appearing unsolicited saying they “noticed” a problem that, if not fixed right away, will cause disastrous results. (“Your furnace will blow up,”  “Your roof will completely fall in,” etc.)
  • "Pity" tales - "My wife just had surgery,”  "Our house just burned down,” etc. – Even if statements like these are true, it's not a barometer to use to determine whether to hire a business. It's also not professional for a contractor to use "tales of woe" to convince you to hire rather than his reputation, experience and work references.
  • "I need most of the money right now for materials." – Many established contractors have charge accounts at home supply stores, or arrangements in place with suppliers. Requiring more than half of the agreed upon amount up front should be viewed with caution. Demands for all or almost all the money before work begins should be refused (especially if there's no written contract).
  • "We can start RIGHT NOW." They leave no time for you to read and sign paperwork, verify licensing/insurance/bonding, references, or get estimates.  It may be tempting, but if the work remains unfinished or is shoddily done, you'd have to wait and spend MORE money to get another contractor to take care of it. Save the headache up front! Do your research.

If you ever feel threatened by an unsolicited worker on your property who will not leave or is acting in a manner that makes you uncomfortable, call local law enforcement for assistance.

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Contact the Better Business Bureau serving Central & Eastern Kentucky to check out companies, charities, or to report problems and scams by calling the Lexington office at (859) 259-1008 or toll-free 1-800-866-6668. Services are also available by logging on to www.bbb.org/lexington.