Posted in Avoid rip offs, Consumer Protection, How to Hire a Contractor

Avoiding In-Home Appointment Scams

It’s a typical scenario: the phone rings and on the other end is an appointment setter announcing she represents a home improvement company working in your area. She asks you a few questions and sure enough, her company can have a salesman come out to meet with you about your project. 

The happened to my elderly mother, who had a visit from the salesperson who spent two hours in her house for a high pressure sales call for a patio enclosure. It seems the older one gets the more the phone rings with cold-callers wanting to sell you something! 

Fortunately she didn’t sign a contract but unfortunately not before he got her ID and Social Security number to check her credit for instant approval. 

With a swift search I found out this is a slick operation that prays upon unsuspecting elderly people. He left no business card, no written estimate or company brochure.  That was suspicious. It’s unnerving to think my mom willingly gave out her social security number so easily to a company she had no knowledge of prior to the cold-call. It happens all the time to senior citizens. 

I called this company back, (thank you Caller ID), after I heard about this from my mother. The man who answered refused to identify his company name or contractors license number until I revealed our phone number first and he ended up hanging up on me when I asked why is it so difficult to tell me what the name of your company is. 

The reason why the person working in the cold-call center wouldn’t reveal his company is that they have several company names they operate under. It’s a nasty truth that when a construction company gets so many complaints and they lose their license, they start up again under another name, all those sales people move over to the next company and so it goes, they reinvent themselves several times over with the same scams under different names. 

What to watch out for when you get a home-improvement cold-caller: 

  • A legitimate construction company won’t be cold-calling you for work. Be suspicious and not so willing to accept an in-home appointment from a cold-caller.
  • Do not agree to an appointment with a cold-caller without first checking them out to see if this is a legitimate contractor in good standing. Tell them you’ll call them back, if they are not legitimate like the company that came calling at my moms,  they will hang up with you and not reveal their information. 
  • Ask the cold-caller for their company name, address, web-site, and most importantly their contractors license number so you can check them out before an appointment. 
  • Contact your local state contractors board’s web site. You can search by contractors number or business name. You want to check out the contractor’s company to see if they are in good standing or not. Google the company name or phone number to see what pulls up. Usually that will lead to Yelp reviews, Rip-Off Report or Reverse Caller Look Up information. If they don’t look legitimate, you’re probably right. 

Ways to identify a reputable construction company: 

  1. They identify themselves by business name when you call them. This should be simple enough but oddly the bad companies won’t tell you their name. Wow!
  2. They willingly will provide a contractors license #, a business location, and referrals when asked. Legitimate companies proudly will show you a copy of their license in their presentation book with photos of their work and referral letters from previous clients. 
  3. They maintain a local business address and may invite you to visit  them if they maintain a showroom to display their products. Other legitimate nationwide construction companies may not have a local showroom but maintain a website to review their services and products and the salesperson will bring an array of samples with him or her to the in-home appointment. They will also provide excellent customer service with telephone agents willing to help with any questions you may have before or after an in-home appointment. 
  4. The salesperson will furnish a written proposal with a price, a description of the work to be done, a lead time for the work and materials included in the proposal. This proposal will be left with you at the time of the visit or they will leave a brochure and a business card while they work up a proposal back at the office and get back to you on a timely basis. 
  5. If they offer financing, they will provide you a copy of the finance paperwork. 

And lastly, no matter how excited you are to get started; always do your research first. 

###

Advertisements

Author:

Laurie Burke, connected to the design and construction industry since 1996. A seasoned residential kitchen and bath design specialist , Laurie has designed thousands of kitchens & baths as well as other cabinetry projects requiring technical precision in design drafting utilizing state of the art 2020 software for creating accurate plans and elevations. Through on- going product knowledge training and a desire to always stay current with an evolving marketplace, Laurie Burke maintains a strong command of knowing the appropriate Fit & Finish materials required for a residential remodel to meet the budget, the timeline of a project and a client's need for a finished product that meets their satisfaction. Kitchen Designer by trade, foodie, techie, weekend traveler for fun. For more information contact me at burkeKBdesign@gmail.com http://laurieburke.houzz.com

2 thoughts on “Avoiding In-Home Appointment Scams

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s