The recent storms that rolled through Louisiana have caused significant damage to many homes, businesses and vehicles.
Unfortunately, “travelers” (out of town contractors) are likely to be showing up in the hardest hit cities, towns and neighborhoods warns the Better Business Bureau (BBB) serving Northeast and Central Louisiana and the Ark-La-Tex
“Some of these contractors will prey on people whose property was damaged. They promise quick repairs, collect a fee and then, fail to deliver,” stated BBB President and CEO Andrew Fisher.
“Travelers” operate out of extended stay hotels or have established virtual offices to create the illusion of being local. They may complete the job as described. But sometimes, poor craftsmanship and materials mean that problems will develop later when the business has moved on to a new storm-damaged region. In the worst-case scenario, the contractor simply takes your payment, completes little-to-none of the work and takes off.
Although not all “travelers” are problematic, some may lack the proper licensing and make promises they cannot keep. Legitimate firms that travel the country following violent storms will always be transparent about the nature of their business and the fact they are not a local company. “People who need to make repairs to their property should never feel pressured to make a hasty decision or to hire an unknown contractor who comes to your door offering a quick fix,” explained Fisher.
Recuperation from any disaster, large or small, is difficult and is usually a gradual process. It takes time and many resources to make the repairs properly.
To help victims of disasters begin a safe recovery without the fear of being scammed, here are some tips to help.
Tips for Protection from Traveling Repair Firms:
- Do not be pressured: Some “travelers” will try to pressure you into deciding immediately. Do not fall for it. Just as you would for a standard home improvement project, interview several companies before deciding.
- Check references: Get references from several past customers. Make sure these are local to your area and at least a year old, so you can check on the quality of the work.
- Do your research: Check with BBB to find reputable contractors that you can trust. You can find Business Profiles of BBB Accredited Businesses in your area at bbb.org or by calling 800-372-4222. BBB Business Profiles are more than just a grade. You can also read past complaints from customers and customer reviews.
- Make sure it is legal: Confirm that any business being considered for hire is licensed and registered to do work in your area. Also, request proof of a current insurance certificate from a contractor’s insurance company and verify that the policy is active.
- Get it in writing: Always be sure to get a written contract with the price, materials and timeline. The more detail, the better.
- Understand Warranty Procedures: If a firm is not local, ask who they have contracted with locally for warranty work. Be sure to verify this with the local company and have this agreement included in your contract.
- Be cautious about payment. Do not pay for the job in advance. Be wary of any contractor who demands full or half payment upfront. Insist that payments be made to the company, not an individual. Pay by credit card, if possible; you may have additional protection if there is a problem.