Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Advice For Dealing With Storm Damage

The following is a news release issued by the Better Business Bureau:

Memphis, TN, April 4, 2010 – Strong storms moved through the Mid-South today, toppling trees, downing power lines and causing damage to homes and buildings. Unfortunately, the aftermath of a storm also brings out people looking to take advantage of those who need help cleaning up and repairing storm damage. Consumers anxious to get their homes and yards back to normal should be on the lookout for scams and businesses involving clean-up efforts, tree or limb removal, and fence and home repairs.

“Scammers often go door-to-door after storms offering to do clean-up or repair work,” said Randy Hutchinson, BBB president. “Consumers should exercise caution when dealing with these door-to-door solicitors, who may not be licensed or insured, may not do a good job and may not be around later to complete or correct work.

“We’ve seen two instances in the past few months of door-to-door solicitors being arrested for extortion,” Hutchinson added. “In both instances, the consumers paid for a small amount of work to be done, only to be told after the fact that more work was completed and they owed exorbitant amounts of money to the scammers.”

Hutchinson urges consumers to check out a company before hiring them to do work. “Even some real companies don’t deliver on their promises,” he said.

BBB Tips for Dealing with Storm Damage:

Be wary of door-to-door workers who show up unsolicited offering to make repairs. This includes companies offering to remove fallen trees. Itinerant workers from other parts of the country flock to disaster-stricken areas and may do shoddy work or not be anywhere to be found once homeowners realize repairs weren’t done properly.

Check with your insurance company about policy coverage and specific filing requirements. Keep copies of receipts for emergency repairs for reimbursement later.

Although you may be anxious to get things back to normal, avoid acting in haste. Don't be pressured into signing a long-term contract. Make temporary repairs if necessary.

Take time to shop around for contractors, get competitive bids, and check out the contractor with the BBB.

The BBB can provide you a list of BBB Accredited Businesses to choose from. This includes roofers, tree removal companies, fence companies and other home repair businesses.

Get everything in writing. Prepare a written agreement with anyone you hire that delineates the work to be done, the materials to be used, and the price breakdown for both labor and materials. Review it carefully before signing. Vague clauses such as “repair siding” are invitations for abuse.

Never pay the full amount of repairs in advance. 30% is a standard down payment. Pay with a credit card if possible; credit cards offer you more protection if the work is not completed as specified.

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