The Better Business Bureau says summer can be a busy season for scams as tradespeople knock on homeowners’ doors offering their services for a price.
Peter Moorhouse, president of the Better Business Bureau for Atlantic Canada, says the the group received more than 1,400 complaints last year.
“These were issues where consumers had bought a service or a product and felt like they weren’t fairly treated,” he said.
Moorhouse says during the warmer months they receive calls about unscrupulous landscapers, fence and deck builders, roofers and pavers.
The bureau says they hear a lot from customers who either bought a service last year and are noticing problems, or are unsatisfied with their 2014 purchase.
“We’ve heard in recent days from an individual who contracted a paving company last year, paid what he thought was a fair price and the cracks are showing,” said Moorhouse. “Now he can’t get in touch with the company and the one-year warranty is coming to an end.”
Questions to ask:
- How long have you been in business?
- Do you have insurance that will cover the customer?
- Do you have recommendations?
In another case a chimney repair worker knocked on someone’s door, offered his service, took a down payment and then disappeared.
Moorhouse says some salespeople will try to pressure homeowners by pointing out potential problems, sending them into a panic.
“You have someone who is a slick talker at your doorstep and you can get really caught up in it,” he said.
Besides esthetic problems, Moorhouse says poor service, like a wonky deck, is dangerous.
“In many of the situations we deal with there are actually potentially life or death or certainly injury consequences as a result,” he said.
Moorhouse recommends potential consumers do as much research as they can on a company before handing over any money.
“With a little bit of forethought and planning the consumer could have protected themselves,” he said. “You should be looking for evidence that the business is a business that does the right thing by its customers.”
On top of research, Moorhouse says to get everything in writing.
He also warns of identity theft when handing over credit card data and personal information.
“Unfortunately there’s just untold potential for people to get manipulated,” he said.