After the ice storm that hit Denton County on Dec. 6, residents are cleaning up downed branches and trees, repairing collapsed carports and patios, fixing plumbing problems, and repairing vehicles damaged in collisions. Days after the storm, consumers and businesses are finding that melting ice is falling from roofs and is damaging cars and property.
The Dallas-area Better Business Bureau (BBB) offered tips on choosing clean-up and repair services to help customers find businesses to trust.
“After severe storms of all kinds, scammers often swing into action to target vulnerable consumers and businesses who are trying to cope with the aftermath,” said Jeannette Kopko, spokesperson for BBB serving Dallas and Northeast Texas.
“BBB warns to check out businesses carefully and be cautious with repair services that go door to door, don’t provide written agreements or complete contract information, or pressure customers to sign contracts immediately.”
With so many trees and branches down, tree services and home repair services could approach homeowners and businesses in affected neighborhoods. With many cars and trucks damaged, collision repair services could pop up to fix everything from dents to windshields or major repairs.
While many may be established businesses that customers can check out, some could be “storm chasers” from out of town who take money up front but do unsatisfactory work or leave jobs unfinished. After last year’s tornadoes, some homeowners paid thousands of dollars to roofing contractors who left them with unfinished roofs.
BBB offers these tips on choosing repair services after the ice storm:
• If your property is damaged, check with your insurance company as soon as possible. Make any temporary repairs that may be necessary and keep receipts.
• Consider getting more than one estimate. Check with friends, neighbors, family or co-workers for referrals. Research the business before signing, not after.
• When getting an estimate, get everything in writing, including a permanent address and phone number for the business. Beware of high pressure to sign right away (“this price is good today only”) or scare tactics (“if you don’t take care of it right away it will cause severe damage”). Don’t make a large down payment or pay in full until everything is completed to your satisfaction.
• Make sure you know what you’re signing. Is it an estimate or a contract? Watch out for agreements that call for consumers to pay a sizable fee just for cancelling.
• Check out businesses before signing. To check out a business with Dallas BBB, start at dallas.bbb.org, or use the free BBB iPhone app, in the app store or at www.bbb.org/iphone. BBB Business Reviews include contact information, the BBB rating from A+ to F, the reason(s) for the rating, customer complaint summary, BBB accreditation status, and more.
• Find lists of BBB Accredited Businesses who are screened, approved and monitored in the BBB Accredited Business Directory at www.bbb.org/dallas/accredited-business-directory. Search the BBB Accredited Business Directory by category, including:
Heating & Air Conditioning
Hauling and Clean Up Services
Auto Repair & Service
Auto Body Repair & Painting
For more tips or to check out a business, find BBB Accredited Businesses, file customer complaints, and more, start at dallas.bbb.org.