BBB offers tips for home and business owners who are coping with storm damage.

March 25, 2013

Baseball and golf ball size hail battered the Jackson metro area on Monday. Windshields and cars were pounded, roofs and siding were damaged, and trees downed. With the threat of more severe weather heading into the metro area this weekend area residents are bracing for another round of possible damage. BBB offers tips for home and business owners who are coping with storm damage.

BBB serving Mississippi warns homeowners and 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. To help customers find trustworthy repair services, BBB offers these tips:

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, service, and guarantee, not just price. Ask for – and check out – customer references. Check out the business with the BBB at or call 601-398-1700.

Be 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. Look for these red flags: be cautious of contractors who solicit business door-to-door with vague information; don't provide a physical address or phone; or use scare tactics ("That chimney's about to fall") or high pressure ("This price is good today only"). Pop-up car dent repair shops might appear in parking lots. Make sure you know the business that's offering the dent repair, as well as the terms of the guarantee, 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 the guarantee.

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. 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 the BBB at The BBB accepts customer complaints on businesses, and sends a copy of the complaint to the business. The BBB asks the business to reply, and checks back with the customer to see if the complaint is resolved.