Common Foundation Repair Scams and TacticsOct 3, 2016
As a CNT Foundations in South Carolina, we know that most people out there, especially here in the Lowcountry, are hard-working, honest folks. That being said, you don’t work in our industry for 15 years without hearing about some dishonest people and the tactics that they employ to make a quick buck. Doing business is all about building a relationship with your customers, doing the job right the first time, and avoiding cutting corners to save money. Unfortunately, there are some shady characters that don’t realize this and are out for a quick cash grab. We hope this article will help to identify anyone with those plans in mind and save you from falling for their well-rehearsed schemes.
Common Foundation Repair Company Scams
Keep these common scams in mind when considering which company to use for foundation repair, home repair, or construction:
- Name Change Tactics: This scam involves changing the name of the business while continuing operations. Often the scammer will change their company’s name multiple times, depending on how bad their reputation becomes. Changing the company’s name does a couple of things. When someone posts a bad review, it’s more likely that they will “call out” the business rather than the owner. This makes it easy for the owner to just change the name of the business and continue to take unassuming customer’s money when the bad reviews pile up. Additionally, when “Company A” is no longer around, all of the “lifetime warranties” that they promised are no longer valid. Finally, angry customers can’t find a location for the business to speak their mind or serve papers for a suit.
- What Can You Do? Unfortunately, the reason this type of practice is so prevalent is because it works. The Better Business Bureau has difficulty obtaining the names of former business aliases. Checking how long the company that you’re considering hiring has been in business is a good start to defending yourself from this type of fraud. Of course, not all new companies are untrustworthy and not all businesses that have been around for a few years are reputable. Use your best judgment and ask around.
- Billing for Unperformed Work: Because many consumers don’t know every detail about foundation repair or construction in general, some contractors take advantage by billing for work that was either unnecessary or wasn’t completed.
- What Can You Do? To keep dishonest individuals from padding their pockets with this type of fraud, it is important to meet with the contractor for an estimate and explanation of the project. Establishing a baseline for what a company says that they’ll charge and what they’ll do for you makes it harder for them to go back on their word, especially if you make clear your expectations and show your understanding of what they’re proposing.
- Buying Unnecessary Materials or Using Materials of a Lesser Quality: There are quite a few ways that a consumer can be scammed when it comes to materials. When a contractor uses a lesser product, the cost of the project is reduced, even though you, the consumer, may still be paying the price on the original invoice. While the finished product may be the same shortly after completion, the cheapness of the product will eventually begin to show. A contractor may purchase extra material and then store some away to save money on a future job, or may bill you for things that you shouldn’t have to pay for. Never buy a hammer for a contractor; they should have the tools they need already.
- What Can You Do? When talking initially to the business or contractor, ask what brand of materials they will be using for the project. Beware of any hesitation; most people in our line of work are loyal to the brand they believe has the highest quality products. During your initial meeting, it’s also a good idea to ask for copies of all receipts for materials purchased for your project. Most companies will be happy to oblige.
- Asking for the Entire Payment Upfront: This is a big one. Anyone who has been deceived by this type of scam won’t soon forget it. The reason is that once a contractor has your entire payment, there is very little incentive to work on your project before someone who has yet to pay. At this point, if you are dissatisfied with the quality of the work, you can’t exactly fire someone who hasn’t completed the job and still has the money that you allotted to have the work done. If the contractor asks for even more money, you have the difficult decision of paying more and hoping that the job gets done or accepting the loss and finding a more reputable company. In many cases, hiring an attorney to try to recover your payment ends up costing more than the payment itself.
- What Can You Do? It is critically important to be clear about payment schedule from the beginning. Many contractors do require a small percentage of the total project cost as a down payment, but some rates can be as high as 50% down. Make sure to discuss terms beforehand and only pay what you are comfortable with. And NEVER, and we mean it, pay in full upfront.
- Making Themselves Hard to Find: Be wary of any company that doesn’t list much contact information on their webpage. If you can’t find an address or brick and mortar location for the company you’re thinking about hiring, think twice. Problems with former, dissatisfied clients may have caused them to change or conceal their whereabouts. Even worse, you may be close to hiring someone working odd jobs out of their van.
- What Can You Do? As is a common theme in our answers, use common sense and dig just a little bit deeper before committing to a company just because they may have quoted you the cheapest price. If you can’t find an address or contact information easily, be careful.
Foundation Repair Company in South Carolina
Although a lot of these possibilities are distressing, we don’t want you to think that every contractor is out to scam you for a quick buck. Like we mentioned earlier, there are tons of reputable, honest people to do business in South Carolina. Shopping around is completely acceptable, and reading reviews or speaking to former clients is a great way to protect yourself. Hiring someone to do work on your home is just like making any other big purchase; do your research and you’ll be much more confident that your money is being well spent.
If you have any questions about how CNT Foundations does business, we’d be happy to answer them. Give us a Call and schedule a free estimate so that you’ll know exactly where you stand.