BBB Advice for Dealing with Storm Damage
October 17, 2012, Memphis TN – When strong storms move through the Mid-South, they topple trees, down power lines and cause damage to homes, buildings and fences. Unfortunately, the aftermath of a storm often brings out people looking to take advantage of those who need help cleaning up and repairing storm damage. Folks who are anxious to get their homes and yards back to normal should be on the lookout for scams involving clean-up efforts, tree or limb removal, and fence and home repairs.
“Storm chasers often go door-to-door after storms offering to do clean-up or repair work,” said Randy Hutchinson, BBB of the Mid-South president. “In some instances, a homeowner may pay for a small amount of work to be done, only to be told after the fact that more work was completed and they now owe exorbitant amounts of money to the scammers.”
Homeowners should exercise caution when dealing with these door-to-door solicitors, who may not be licensed or insured, may not do a good job and may not be around later to complete or correct work once they realize repairs weren’t done properly.
Hutchinson urges consumers to check out a company before hiring them to do work. “You can even check out someone who shows up unbidden at your door while they are standing on your front porch by going to m.bbb.org on your smartphone,” he said. “And remember, even some real companies don’t deliver on their promises.”
BBB Tips for Dealing with Storm Damage:
• Be wary of door-to-door workers who show up unsolicited offering to make repairs. This includes companies offering to remove fallen trees and branches.
• Check with your insurance company about policy coverage and specific filing requirements. Keep copies of receipts for emergency repairs for reimbursement later.
• Although you may be anxious to get things back to normal, avoid acting in haste. Don't be pressured into signing a long-term contract. Make temporary repairs if necessary.
• Take time to shop around for contractors, get competitive bids, and check out the contractor with the BBB at bbb.org or by calling 901-759-1300 or 800-222-8754.
• The BBB can provide you a list of BBB Accredited Businesses to choose from, including roofers, tree removal companies, fence companies and other home repair businesses.
• Get everything in writing. Prepare a written agreement with anyone you hire that outlines the work to be done, the materials to be used, and the price breakdown for both labor and materials. Review it carefully before signing. Vague clauses such as “repair siding” are invitations for abuse.
• Never pay the full amount of repairs in advance. 30% is a standard down payment. Pay with a credit card if possible; credit cards offer you more protection if the work is not completed as specified.
Consumers who feel that they have been taken advantage of by scammers or storm chasers are urged to file a complaint with the BBB.