“A north Texas man who paid up front for his fencing never saw his money again, police are investigating the contractor and have issued 3 felony warrants for his arrest.” Ross thought he did all the right things when selecting a contractor for fencing services on his acre plus yard – “Everybody did the same type of sales pitch…I was comfortable with him I went with him” said Ross. As with common industry practices the contractor requested a 50% deposit up front to which Ross obliged. When it came time to install the fence all Ross got were holes dug by a subcontractor and a plethora of excuses from the contractor. As it turns out Ross was not alone numerous complaints were filed against the contractor, but the contractor was nowhere to be found. An attorney working for the contractor proclaimed that all deposits were to be reimbursed in full. However, when reporters followed up with the fence contractor’s attorney he said that he had no idea where his client went. Both police and former clients are looking for him. There is also a $40,000 civil judgement against him. Ross doesn’t believe he’ll ever see his money again, a $2600 value, a lot of money for him, but not even the worse victim…some complaints against the contractor stated over $11,000 in losses. “He has been out there doing this for several years now. I don’t want to see someone else victimized like I was” Ross said.
People hear about these sort of things in the news, and through the grapevine, and think to themselves that this could never happen to them or in their community. But matter of fact is that it could happen to anyone. Occurrences like this are growing ever more prevalent, there have been numerous instances in Palm Beach County alone. Fly by night contractors make their living picking up from area to area preying on unsuspecting homeowners. It is important to be wary and educated when choosing a contractor for any home improvement project not just fencing. The BBB advises that before you do business with anyone, you should check them out thoroughly. Find online reviews, check the BBB’s website, and even look up local court records. Listed below are other methods to become a more cautious buyer in addition to those listed by the news source.
— Check with your local building authority make sure the contractor maintains an active license, is insured, and has pulled permits that have resulted in passed inspections.
— Request to see former clients jobs…call former clients and ask about the contractors service.
— Check with the trade association, in this case the American Fence Association, to see if the contractor is an active member.
— Look up the contractor at your local chamber of commerce or associated general contractors agency.
— Read reviews on the contractor…however be wary of reviews from Facebook, Yelp, google, etc. as the contractor can self promote himself with false reviews.
— Contact your Homeowners association for a list of preferred vendors.
— Contact Fence Material suppliers to see if there is a contractor they recommend.
If you have done some homework on your contractor and think he fits the mold but are still hesitant there are some things to be aware of.
— You’re told on this job a contract won’t be necessary.
— You’re asked to pay for the entire job up front or give cash directly to a sales rep rather than a company
— You’re confronted with scare tactics, intimidations, or threats
— You’re told your part of a demonstration project and thus offered a low price
— You’re told the special low price is only good if you sign the contract today
— Contractor won’t give references or references cannot be located
— You can’t verify contractors business location or it does not match the license registration
— Contractor relies on subcontractors and cannot provide a precise time frame for the job
Hiring unscrupulous contractors can result in more than just a lost deposit, legal issues could stem from it down the road that the homeowner could be responsible for. No one wants to feel like they were violated, even when choosing something as simple as a fence it is important to research the prospective companies for which you are soliciting for bids.