BBB Advises Contractors to Avoid Advance Fee Leads

February 13, 2012
Better Business Bureau of Northeast California is urging contractors to beware of telephone solicitations and online postings offering free job leads.
Over the past two weeks, BBB received over 60 inquiries about All Crews Now, a company reportedly based out of Sacramento, but whose website is almost exactly the same as three other California companies: Contractor Support Management, Construction Crews and Commercial Crews. Two pending complaints against All Crews Now mirror the 119 complaints filed against Contractor Support Management. 
Contractors who complained allege the companies call offering free job leads for bank owned properties in need of construction work in their area. All they have to do, the complainants are allegedly told, is pay a $99 fee for a background check. After the fee is paid, complainants claim they receive no usable leads and have difficulty reaching the company. 
In other cases, consumers found the company on a classified advertisement website. 
“I found this company on craigslist, a $100 background check was done and then I never spoke to a customer,” said a Red Bluff contractor who did business with Contractor Support Management. “I received emails from supposed customers, but they were just repeats of the same words over and over again. I want my money back.”
All Crews Now provides a Sacramento address on its website. Mail sent to this address was returned. In its privacy policy, however, a San Jose address is listed. That address also appears on the websites for Construction Crews and Commercial Crews. The website for Contractor Support Management is not currently available. The websites for the companies display the same images, text and testimonials.
“Upfront fees are always a red flag,” said Gary Almond, president of BBB serving Northeast California. “Consumers should thoroughly research a business’s background when fees precede services.”
BBB offers the following advice for companies seeking business leads: 
•Ask for references and contact them.
•Read contracts carefully. Promised results should be included in the contract. 
•If a guarantee is offered, get it in writing.
•Be wary of anything using the term “free”. 
•Search for the company on and through other search engines. 
•Beware of high pressure sales tactics. Do not let anyone rush you into making a decision.