As the weather warms in Colorado, signs will begin popping up on street corners faster than the tulips, offering everything from painting services to landscaping. Better Business Bureau Serving New Mexico and Southwest Colorado wants to remind consumers to do their homework before hiring a contractor for home improvements.
There are several indicators that a company you are thinking of hiring may not be as good as they appear. One red flag is that the company says the offer is only good for today. Perhaps they tell you that they are trying to use up left over asphalt from a local job. Often times when an offer is not legitimate, there will be a push for the consumer to purchase the product or pay for the service today. Another indicator is that the person making the offer showed up at your door in a vehicle with out of state license plates. Remember that some con artists make their living travelling around to various areas of the country and may not stay in the same city for more than a couple of weeks.
Before you pay money to anyone or allow them into your home follow these tips:
•Get the name and address of the company. A phone number is not always enough to track a company with the rise in popularity of cell phones.
•Ensure all details and verbal promises that the company makes are included in a contract. Review and make sure that you understand everything in the document. Remember that estimates are not always the actual cost. If any changes are made by you or the company as far as labor or material charges to a change in the work planned, make sure the contract is adjusted to reflect these changes.
•Verify the individual is licensed, bonded and insured. Just because a company gives you a license number, does not mean it is valid. Many cities in Colorado have varying requirements for contractors so be sure to check your local ordinances.
•Do not always go for the lowest bid. If estimates for the same work vary widely, find out why. Sometimes unscrupulous operators may use sub-standard materials or take longer to finish the job.
•Make checks payable to the company. Do not pay the salesperson direct or any other individual. Never pay with cash. Using a credit card often gives you some protection through your credit card company.
•Avoid many springtime scams simply by checking a company’s track record. Visit www.bbb.org to learn more.
Companies which operate above board and want your business will not pressure you into making an immediate decision and will give you the time to check them out.
Written By: Connie Quillen, Executive Assistant, Better Business Bureau Serving New Mexico and Southwest Colorado