Here's our final National Consumer Protection Week tip.
Imagine this situation: your kitchen sink is clogged and you need a plumber to fix it. You’ve never been in this situation and you’re not sure which company to call. You open the Yellow Pages and randomly pick a plumbing company. You place a phone call and are relieved the plumber can come to your house that afternoon. The plumber comes over and says not only do you need kitchen sink repairs but other home repairs are needed, too. Now it is three days later and you just paid more than $2,200 for the repairs to the kitchen sink and other parts of your home. Instead of fixing the immediate problem, the plumber may have ripped you off by performing unnecessary repairs. Little did you know the plumber ripped you off.
Does this seem like a fair business practice? According to the Consumer Protection Division of the Washington Attorney General’s Office, it’s not uncommon for home repair companies to overcharge a customer, but there are different measures you can take to avoid a scam.
“Always get multiple bids and never sign for the work on the same day,” said Chad Crummer, investigations manager with our Consumer Protection Division.
What else can you do to protect yourself?
- Don’t sign a contract on the same day
- Research the companies and verify their credentials: Check to see if the contractors or tradespersons are registered with the Department of Labor and Industries: http://www.lni.wa.gov/tradeslicensing/
- Get referrals
- Make sure you get multiple bids (at least three) from companies
- Consult with family and friends
- Always get a second opinion
“Companies will get in there and make it seem you need all of these things,” Crummer said.
But if you do your research, get multiple bids and NEVER sign a contract on the same day, you will find a company with fair business practices and one that will meet your needs.