The Better Business Bureau has received information about itinerant workers offering to pave driveways or re-surface parking lots. Typically, these fly by night companies offer to do the job with leftover materials from a previous job, use high pressure tactics, and trick you into thinking they offer a discount price. They have no physical location in the area and use poor quality materials. They do not pay local taxes and take discretionary income that could be better spent on local businesses.
Often these companies claim their prices are lower than any local bid, but a little checking around may prove otherwise. If they do offer you the lowest price, don't assume it to be the best deal. "Compare apples to apples", said Janna Kiehl, Executive Director of the Better Business Bureau. "These companies are notorious for quoting a bid on footage instead of yardage, which is misleading to the buyer"; quoting in yardage is standard in the industry. Keep in mind that there's a lot more to a purchase than the price. No matter how good the price, should you do business with a company that will not be here tomorrow to hear your concerns or honor a warranty?
At this time of year, the BBB sees the usual paving scams from companies traveling through the area. Every year they're back. Why? Probably because they perceive our area as an easy target to make a quick dollar. "In other words, they've scammed here before, so their back for more business” said Kiehl. Citizens can put a stop to scams. Say no, and use the BBB's resources and create a business or personal policy to check on a company before buying or signing. "We can warn people but as long as the cons find an easy target, Amarillo and the surrounding area will be a regular source of business for them," said Kiehl.
The BBB's best advice is to check out all solicitations at the Better Business Bureau before you do business with anyone. Never pay upfront and never sign a contract without reading and understanding it.
Before you deal with a company you don’t know, or are unsure of:
1. Call the BBB for a report on the company, BEFORE opening your wallet. Phones are open 24 hours at 379-6222 and reports are available online at www.txpanhandle.bbb.org. Get some answers before you do something as personal as opening your wallet to a stranger!
2. Verify that any contractor you are considering doing business with is properly licensed, bonded and insured. And registered at the BBB.
3. Obtain bids from several companies. Compare apples to apples. Review the bids and remember the lowest bid is not always the best price.
4. Call the BBB and comparison shop with local, well known, reputable companies. The BBB can provide a list of industry specific businesses.
5. Don’t fall prey to high pressure tactics such as "this is the only chance you’ll have" or "by tomorrow the extra materials will be gone," or "I’m only in this area today." A legitimate company will be here when you're ready to buy and they will be more than willing to allow you time to check them out. If they don’t, let that be a warning sign.
"Many people who do business with itinerant workers do so because they consider it a fast, convenient way to get a nagging job done at what they think is a much cheaper price." said Kiehl. "Keep your money local and think long term." Most of these jobs will have to be done again in two to three months or less, and that's not a good deal." Remember that con artists are in the business of conning and know little about the job they offer.
Before you do business with a company you don’t know, or are unsure of, pay for anything, or sign a contract, call the Better Business Bureau, that's what we're here for.