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. 

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Posted in Consumer Protection, Consumer Research, Manufacturer Recalls, Refrigerators, Safety Features

Viking Range Corporation Recalls Built-In Refrigerators Due to Injury Hazard; Doors Can Detach

This just in from the CPSC.

NEWS from CPSC

U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission

Office of Information and Public Affairs Washington, DC 20207

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 16, 2009
Release # 09-242
Firm’s Recall Hotline: (888) 345-2650
CPSC Recall Hotline: (800) 638-2772
CPSC Media Contact: (301) 504-7908

Viking Range Corporation Recalls Built-In Refrigerators Due to Injury Hazard; Doors Can Detach

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, in cooperation with the firm named below, today announced a voluntary recall of the following consumer product. Consumers should stop using recalled products immediately unless otherwise instructed.

Name of Product: Viking Built-In Side-by-Side Refrigerator/Freezers and Refrigerators with Bottom Freezers

Units: About 45,000

Manufacturer: Viking Range Corporation, of Greenwood, Miss.

Hazard: The refrigerator’s doors can detach, posing an injury hazard to consumers.

Incidents/Injuries: Viking has received about 57 reports of doors detaching, including four reports of injuries involving bruises, broken toes/fingers, and strains. Also, several incidents of minor damage to floors and counters have been reported.

Description: This recall involves Viking built-in 48-inch wide side-by-side refrigerator/freezers and the built-in 36-inch wide refrigerators with bottom freezers with model and serial numbers with date codes listed below. The refrigerators come in stainless steel and various colors and wood finishes and are built into the kitchen cabinetry. “Viking” is written on the front of the refrigerator. The model and serial numbers are located either behind the produce drawer or on the ceiling of the interior of the refrigerators. The 42-inch wide or freestanding refrigerators are not included in this recall.

Model Numbers Starting With Date Codes
VCSB481, VCSB482, DDSB482, DFSB482
DTSB482, DDBB362, VCBB360, VCBB362
DFBB362, DTBB362, DTBB363
All units
VCSB483, DDSB483, DFSB483, DTSB483 Date codes before 030104
VCSB483D, DDSB483D, DFSB483D Date codes before 030105
VCBB363 Date codes before 102005
DDBB363 Date codes before 112305
DFBB363 Date codes before 041006

The first six numbers in the serial number are the manufacture date of the unit in [mm][dd][yy] format, e.g., serial number 051903G0000000375 was manufactured on May 19, 2003 and serial number F01250210170 was manufactured on January 25, 2002.

Sold by: Appliance and specialty retailers nationwide from July 1999 through April 2006 for between $4,725 and $6,400.

Manufactured in: United States

Remedy: Consumers with recalled refrigerators should contact Viking immediately to schedule a free in-home repair. Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled refrigerator if the door isn’t sealing properly, is sagging, or fails to open and close properly. If the door is functioning properly, consumers may continue to use the refrigerator until it has been repaired.

Consumer Contact: For more information, contact Viking toll-free at (888) 345-2650 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET Monday through Friday or visit Viking’s Web site at www.vikingrange.com


CPSC is still interested in receiving incident or injury reports that are either directly related to this product recall or involve a different hazard with the same product. Please tell us about it by visiting https://www.cpsc.gov/cgibin/incident.aspx

Send the link for this page to a friend! The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission is charged with protecting the public from unreasonable risks of serious injury or death from thousands of types of consumer products under the agency’s jurisdiction. The CPSC is committed to protecting consumers and families from products that pose a fire, electrical, chemical, or mechanical hazard. The CPSC’s work to ensure the safety of consumer products – such as toys, cribs, power tools, cigarette lighters, and household chemicals – contributed significantly to the decline in the rate of deaths and injuries associated with consumer products over the past 30 years.

To report a dangerous product or a product-related injury, call CPSC’s Hotline at (800) 638-2772 or CPSC’s teletypewriter at (800) 638-8270. To join a CPSC e-mail subscription list, please go to https://www.cpsc.gov/cpsclist.aspx. Consumers can obtain recall and general safety information by logging on to CPSC’s Web site at www.cpsc.gov.

Posted in Consumer Protection, Legislation, NKBA

Oklahoma is OK.

Congratulations Oklahoma!

No longer illegal to use title “Interior Designer!”

Members of the Oklahoma design community:

 

On May 12th, Oklahoma Governor Brad Henry signed SB 592 into law. This bill amends the current title act which previously restricted the use of the title “interior designer.”

Continue reading the whole article click here.

WHICH ACCURATELY DESCRIBES THE WORK YOU DO! 

 

This is great news and another victory in erasing the damage done to free enterprise and the public’s right to choose who they hire as a designer. The problem with design legislation is that a small segment of the Interior Design community would rather maintain a single point of entry, passing the NCIDQ Exam, to allow one the privilege to call oneself an interior designer. 

With respect to the two most technical challenging rooms in the home, kitchens and bathrooms, the National Kitchen and Bath Association, NKBA, has function and safety guidelines that NKBA trained kitchen and bath designers follow. No legislation needed!

ASID and IIDA’s argument for limiting who can call themselves an Interior Designer stems from their principal argument in concern for the public health and safety. Not a shred of evidence has ever been presented which would warrant a conclusion that the unregulated practice of interior design places the public in any form of jeopardy. As it is, in residential design, some homeowners will put themselves in jeopardy to save a buck by taking on home improvement projects without consulting with an NKBA trained designer, without pulling permits and without licensed contractors. This is precisely where professional design skills, made accessable for the working class, are needed the most. Professional design services should be more accessible to the public, and yet the very groups, ASID and IIDA, who strive to impose regulation on an entire profession in the name of protecting the health, safety and welfare of the public stand to do more harm to the public than good. Restrictive licensing laws will limit the right of the public to retain the services of a designer of their choosing and restricting NKBA members from practicing their profession. The pro legislation group will continue to bombard our legislators with arguments about their importance in protecting the public’s health and safety, (proven immaterial) and the importance of education, (they do not recognize other educational tracks), and disparage unlicensed designers as not taking their career seriously, (who has the right to make that assumption that because one does not hold a license means he or she is not as equally impassioned, experienced, or educated?)

Nonetheless, every year we see this small segment of the Interior Design community continue it’s efforts,
state by state, spreading disparaging claims about their non-licensed design associates, bombarding our legislators with arguments in favor of changing legislation to prevent designers to use this title without a license. Their arguments continue to have flaws. The problem is that there can be no single point of entry into the profession. One size does not fit all by passing the NCIDQ exam. The educational requirements for licensed commercial interior designers is immaterial to the educational requirements for a residential kitchen and bath designer or to that of a restaurant/commercial kitchen designer. Least of all, the NCIDQ is not a measure of proving professionalism, nor talent. The most famous designers did not need an arbitrary test to prove their competency in the profession. If the First Family can choose an unlicensed designer, it should be good enough for the rest of America. A growing number of professional and business organizations oppose design legislation. The whole idea to add another layer of government bureaucracy to protect the public is duplicitous to codes already in place. ASID and IIDA are the only groups imposing their legislative force to limit other educated and experienced designers from practicing. The NKBA is not seeking legislative action to restrict licensed interior designers from designing kitchen and bath interiors before proving their competency by passing the CKD/CBD examinations. Although maybe they should as I have come across plenty of dumb designs from ASID licensed designers. The NCIDQ examination is flawed! It does not adequately test competency to become a kitchen and bath designer. To pass the NCIDQ exam costs thousands of dollars and several more years in education and intership under a lisenced interior designer. My efforts and clients would be better served by taking educational courses that would directly benefit my career, such as Certified Aging in Place certification made available by the National Association of the Remodeling Industry or becoming a LEED Certified Designer.

The push for Interior design licensing has become a very devisive topic within the design community. It is anti-competitive and anti-consumer and an absolute waste of taxpayers money to impose licensing laws. Let the public choose who they want to hire.

Here is the NKBA Position statement:

Approved February 29, 2008
Position Statement
National Kitchen & Bath Association
The National Kitchen & Bath Association (“NKBA”), as the leading trade and
professional organization in the kitchen and bathroom industry, takes seriously its
role in educating our members and the public at large of the importance of
retaining the services of a professional designer when contemplating new or
remodeled kitchen and bath projects. It is only through education of the public
that they become familiar with the services that a trained kitchen and bath
professional can offer, and determine for themselves the level of skill and
expertise that is required to meet their needs and budget. Because of this, the
NKBA is justly concerned about the efforts of a small segment of the interior
design community, primarily those belonging to the American Society of Interior
Designers (“ASID”), to limit the right of the public to retain the services of a
designer of their choosing and restrict our members from practicing their
profession, a profession in which we have been engaged in for many years
without complaint or concern by the public. As a result of the limited success that
those interior designers have had across the nation, and our belief that their
anti competitive efforts will continue in the future, the National Kitchen & Bath
Association has developed this Position Statement to make clear where we stand
on interior design licensing and how this organization will react to any further
attempts to restrict the profession.
ASID has for over 30 years, conducted a campaign through local coalitions to
convince a small but vocal part of its membership along with various state
legislators that there is a desperate need for interior design licensing to “protect
the public” from those designers who they have decided are unqualified and who
do not meet the self-imposed standards which they have arbitrarily set. They
have had some qualified success in obtaining licensing laws, primarily due to the
fact that such efforts went largely unnoticed by the design community at large.
Members of the National Kitchen & Bath Association generally historically were
not concerned about “titling” laws – regulations that merely restricted the ability to
use a term such as “Certified Interior Designer” or “Registered Interior Designer”
– since our members did not consider themselves “interior designers” and had no
desire to use the regulated term. In fact, under the broad definition of interior
design which these bills regulate, our members do provide interior design
services and would come well within the proscriptions of the law. 

687 Willow Grove Street Hackettstown, NJ 07840
Phone: 908-852-0033 Fax: 908-852-1695
http://www.nkba.org

 

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Posted in Consumer Protection, Consumer Research, Legislation, NKBA

ASID Members Resort to Mudslinging.

A small group of pro-legislation designers in Florida are resorting to mudslinging tactics and name calling on their new blog. In a desperate attempt to gain support it looks like they will alienate more members. Whining about outside interference from other states objecting to Florida’s anti-competitive and unconstitutional law, in an illiterate rant the authors of this anonymous blog have resorted to defamation and character assassination against Patti Morrow, the Executive Director of the Interior Design Protection Council. The IDPC is the only national association of interior designers exclusively dedicated to the task of protecting the livelihoods and rights to practice interior design.

You can read a copy of their unprofessional attack and a response from Patti Morrow at Interior Design Protection Council Blog. Please post your comments there. If one cannot defend his position intelligently and finds his only recourse in name calling and character assassination, proves his argument has no weight and has nothing left to offer in his defense but to throw personal attacks at his opponents. Further, the “writer”, (cough), coward of the attack chooses to remain anonymous.

If this is an example of the leadership within the ASID, it is no wonder why more and more interior designers are disgusted with ASID and resigning as members The resignation of allied partners, vendors and even former ASID chapter officers proves ASID is losing support over useless legislation that negatively impacts the industry at large and places the burden on the American taxpayer.

Why is this important?

While Florida is one of only three states with a practice act , a minority of ASID designers have a personal stake in limiting competition under “consumer safety” in all states and are continuing to lobby for government intervention though practice acts and title acts asking that individual States give a select few a competitive and economic advantage over others, including kitchen and bath designers.

What is their evidence?

Not a shred of evidence has ever been presented to warrant a conclusion that the unregulated practice of interior design places the public in any form of jeopardy.

Further, interior design title and practice act legislation is not being advocated by the public through consumer advocacy groups, attorneys general offices or divisions of consumer affairs.

In fact, 12 government agencies have looked into this issue and concluded that interior design licensing does nothing to protect the public beyond the processes already in place. Click here for a list and access to all 12 government reports, including the 1999 Florida report recommending that the profession of interior design be deregulated.

Proving they have no evidence, even the leadership within ASID publicly admits that there are no known cases where an unlicensed interior designer created a safety hazard. Interior Designers Rallying for Rights.

With building codes in place for all local jurisdictions and building inspectors to verify that specific standards and materials are used in accordance to the local building and safety codes, the public’s health, safety and welfare is protected.

All states have very strict building codes in effect. In addition, there are codes that individual counties might impose above and beyond the state codes. Anyone practicing interior design (licensed or not) must adhere to these codes. Commercial buildings must be inspected and pass inspection by law on a regular basis. If a designer (licensed or not) specifies furniture, fabric, finishes, equipment or installations that aren’t up to code, the inspection will discover it. Any designer (licensed or not) that continually makes mistakes in this area will soon find themselves not getting work.

Alabama previously had a practice act. In 2007, the Supreme Court of the state of Alabama struck down their Interior Design Practice Act. In his opinion, Justice Parker stated: “Nor should this Court embrace the paternalistic notion that the average citizen is incapable of choosing a competent interior designer without the State’s help. The economic liberty of contract remains a protected right in Alabama, especially in a field like interior design that involves expressive activity.”

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Posted in Consumer Protection, Legislation

FEDS to rewrite SAME AS CASH offers.

Consumers will get the rug pulled out from under them as the feds rewrite the rules on “same as cash- no interest loans” slated to take effect July 2010. The Federal Reserve is expected to issue a clarification in April 2009.

If you were planning to use one of these programs to take advantage of deferred interest on big-ticket items where you can pay the total within a given period of – 6, 12, 24 months- for no interest , there is no time like the present to act as retailers are expected to modify programs expiration terms so they expire before July 2010. For the full article click at USA Today click here: USA Today, Fed changes rules on retailers’ no-interest offers.

Posted in Consumer Protection, HB1168, Legislation, NKBA

Legislative Update from the IDPC

Interior Design Protection Council

Take control your future…
Amended HB 1168 will still put you OUT OF BUSINESS!

Attend Hearing on March 17th

Dear Maryland design community and supporters of the Freedom Movement:

IDPC has received word that the sponsor of practice act HB 1168 will announce the following amendments AT THE MARCH 17TH HEARING:

On page 5, in line 11, strike “OR”; in line 13, after “SELECTION” insert “, MOVEMENT, OR ARRANGEMENT”; and in line 15, strike the period and substitute “;

(5) A CERTIFIED KITCHEN OR BATHROOM DESIGNER; OR

(6) A LICENSED CONTRACTOR LICENCENSED [sic] UNDER TITLE 8 OF THE BUSINESS REGULATION ARTICLE.”.

In addition, on March 11th, Deanna Waldron, ASID stated “because HB 1168 does restrict the use of the term “interior designer,” it does not align with ASID policy,” so it is very likely that this bill will also be amended to restrict the practice of interior to “licensed interior designers,” in order to maintain support from ASID.

Please note that these amendments would do
ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to change our position!

There is no need, nor has any evidence been presented, that the UNregulated practice of interior places the public in any form of jeopardy.

If this bill passes, in order to continue practicing the FULL SCOPE of interior design — as you have the freedom to do now — you will have to be NCIDQ certified. That means you may have to close down your business and go back to school, or go to work under another licensed designer (if you can even find one willing to hire you) at little or no pay in order to qualify to sit for the NCIDQ exam.

We simply cannot stand by and allow the interior design cartel to monopolize all the business in Maryland and dictate to consumers who they may hire. We need YOUR help to stop it.

Please please plan to attend the hearing:
March 17th
1:00 p.m.
Room 230 of the House Office Bldg
6 Bladen St, Annapolis MD 21401.

This law would put many thousands of Maryland designers, decorators, contractors and retailers out of business without any demonstrable showing of harm to the public from the failure to license the interior design profession. If passed, Maryland would go against the vast majority of states which found such legislation to be anti-competitive and unnecessary.

If this law is passed, only 325 designers will have the freedom to practice as they like. Thousands will lose their ability to earn a living and contribute to the growth of Maryland’s economy.

There are only three states in the entire country that have interior design practice laws, and none were passed since the 1990s. Most recently, the Supreme Court of Alabama struck down and declared unconstitutional that state’s interior design practice law which was less restrictive than the one being proposed here.

At least twelve state agencies reports have examined the need for titling and/or licensing laws for interior designers and all found no benefit to the public, concluding that consumers already possessed the means to make informed decisions about interior designers. Click here to access all twelve reports.

In 2002, the Maryland Department of Legislative Services conducted a Sunset review of Maryland’s existing interior design title act and recommended a repeal of that law, stating that the regulation of Interior designers was not needed to assure the protection of the public as the interior design services offered by certified interior designers present no risk of serious injury or financial harm to the public. Nothing has changed since the date of that report.

Please note that under this bill, interior design is defined to include:

Preparing and administering interior design documents, including drawings, schedules, and specifications, in the planning and design of interior spaces involving:
furnishings
layouts
fixtures
cabinetry
lighting fixtures
finishes
materials
interior construction
There is NO grandfathering for those who are not already certified. You will NOT be able to continue practicing.

Click here to read the entire bill.

DC, DE and VA

Help your colleagues in the State of Maryland defeat restrictive design licensing in their state. If you do or plan to do business in Maryland you should take this threat to the design community seriously. If the most restrictive, anti-competitive law in the country is passed in Maryland, how long do you think it will be before the interior design cartel enacts or expands a similar law in your state?

TAKE ACTION

Action must be taken now to let the members of the House Economic Matters Committee know about the widespread effect that such disastrous legislation would have, not only on your right to continue in business but on the rights of many thousands of employers and employees in the State of Maryland who will be negatively affected by this restrictive and unnecessary legislation.

In today’s difficult economic climate, the state should not pass legislation which would make it more difficult for its citizens to compete in the free and open market, unless there is compelling evidence that the public is being harmed by the failure to regulate. Clearly, no such evidence exists.

Click here for contact information for Economic Matters Committee

DON’T THINK THAT OTHERS WILL DO THIS FOR YOU —
Everyone needs to be involved to defeat this bill!

YOUR FUTURE IS IN YOUR HANDS.

If you are planning to:
Attend the hearing
Attend and testify at the hearing
please contact pmorrow@IDPCinfo.org on Monday, March 16th.

IDPC is the only national organization solely dedicated to protecting your livelihood and right to practice.

Please join our crusade and become a member.

Patti Morrow
Executive Director
Interior Design Protection Council