It’s inevitable that a damaging storm will be coming around again to this part of Ohio. Just as inevitable are “storm chasers,” a common nickname for unscrupulous home repair companies trying to make a quick buck for your misfortune.
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Have storm damage? Think twice — three times! — before doing business with a company that:
• Phones you or comes knocking. After a storm, all the reputable companies are busy. Why isn’t this guy?
• Drives an unmarked vehicle.
• Has out of state license plates.
• Promises to negotiate with your insurance company.
• Pressures you to sign papers today.
• Asks you to pay a large part (or all) of the job up front.
• Says he’ll drive you to the bank to get the money.
Don’t assume all these people look sleazy. Successful ones can act professional.
Tips for protection against storm chasers
In the “calm before the storm,” learn how to avoid getting ripped off.
• Talk to your insurance company. “Call your insurance company first to find out about your coverage and what steps you should take to get the repairs you need,” recommends Flischel.
• Look for established, licensed or bonded companies.
• Contact the Better Business Bureau for a list of BBB Accredited contractors and business reviews on businesses you’re considering. Visit www.bbb.org or call (937) 222-5825 or (800) 776-5301. “Our Business Review tells the complaints we received about a company and if the complaint was resolved,” says North. (Remember, a person coming to town with a new name won’t have complaints yet.)
• Check contractors’ reputations with the Ohio Attorney General’s office.
• “Once you narrow your selection to several contractors, get written estimates,” offers DeWine. Ask for an itemized list of all materials and costs and a start and ending date.
• Ask for references and contact them.
• “Ask to see certificates of insurance to be sure both liability and workers compensation insurance coverage is in force during the time the work is being done,” says Flischel.
Know your rights
In Ohio, for door-to-door sales of $25 or more, sellers:
• Must give consumers three days to cancel
• Must provide a written agreement and written cancellation notice
• May not begin services until after the three-day cancellation period ends
If the consumer cancels, the seller must provide a refund within 10 days.
Your newspaper will arm you with information to protect your money from scammers.