Spring Brings Contractor Con Artists Out Of Hibernation

construction-hardhatWith “Snowmaggedon” a distant memory and warm spring breezes starting to blow, thoughts turn to sprucing up the old homestead. Maybe a new roof after a hard winter or some new landscaping? Whatever it is that catches your fancy, homeowners looking to remodel their homes should be on high alert for con artist contractors floating through neighborhoods this spring. Unlicensed and unqualified “contractors” tend to go door to door to take advantage of of spring to-do lists offering services at cut-rate prices. Typically the net result is an inferior, unfinished, renovation project. In some cases, these con artist contractors simply take off with a deposit and abandon the project.

Berryville Police Chief, Neal White has had officers respond to several suspicious vehicles driving through neighborhoods in town and points out that Berryville has laws on the books to help protect citizens from these types of scams.

“The regulation in Town is that if someone is going door to door soliciting services they need to apply for a solicitation permit and provide identification.   This way we have a record in case we get calls.”

The town also has regulations for people who are selling products door to door. Chief White went on to say, “The regulation for those actually selling items door to door is that they must apply for a business license and solicitation permit. So, if someone does come to your door selling a product or service they should be able to provide a copy of the Town solicitation permit. They are advised to keep it with them at all times and not to approach houses that are posted ‘No Solicitors’.”

According to the Better Business Bureau, home improvement is consistently one of the top five categories of businesses that receive the highest number of consumer complaints each year. Complaints about home improvement contractors typically include high-pressure sales tactics, confusion over contract terms, poor workmanship, incomplete job performance, and over-charging.

Consumers should be wary of less-than-reputable or unqualified contractors who promise a variety of services at cut-rate prices. They may show up at your door, or put fliers in your mailbox. All it takes is a business card, a cell phone, and a hand full of flyers for someone to represent themselves as a legitimate contracting business.

If you are considering hiring one of these door to door contractors, ask them to show you their solicitation permit. If they are legitimate they should have taken the time to file with the town. Also, ask them for license and insurance information and get local references that you can verify.   Any qualified contractor should be able to provide addresses and phone numbers of satisfied clients in your neighborhood.   Take the time to call the references or inspect comparable work that the contractor has performed.

Don’t let these traveling con artists deter you from seeking help with your projects. There are many talented and qualified contractors in our area. Take the time to find the right one for your project. If someone shows up on your doorstep with a price that sounds to good to be true, it probably is.