Home improvement scare tactics

Seven On Your Side
February 13, 2012 2:24:08 PM PST
Consumers get scammed most often by things they cannot see for themselves, like mold in an air duct or a clog in the chimney. It's hard to rattle a former World War II bomber pilot. However, the chimney cleaner who took Douglas Corlett for a ride used a fear tactic to get him to pay more than $4,000 for repairs he didn't need.

7 On Your Side chased that contractor down. After we alerted consumer officials, they took the owner of All Care Chimney, Michael Lyon, to court. They ordered him to pay restitution, revoked his license to work in New Jersey, and seized his company van for auction.

His customers learned a valuable lesson.

Homeowner, Margo Hodshon, paid $1,500 to fix a dryer duct that was not broken. We stepped in to get her a refund. She says she will never fall for someone who comes to her door again warning of imminent danger.

Always remember reputable air duct, chimney cleaners or home security salespeople will not prey on your fears to make a sale.

Many consumers are already becoming aware of this scam. On "Angie's List", a consumer website, you'll find alerts warning others of high pressure door-to-door salespeople in their neighborhoods.

Other high pressure door to door scams include burglaries in a particular neighborhood to sell home security systems or cleanings of air ducts and chimneys by stating that these issues pose an immediate health hazard.

Here are some tips on how you can avoid home improvements rip-offs.

First, compare quotes. It is always best to have three written estimates to compare.

Never sign a contract on the spot.

And watch out for hidden charges. Before signing anything, make sure you read the fine print for any additional charges.

Lastly, research the reputation, licensing and insurance of the company. If the workers you hire are not insured and damage your home, hurt someone or themselves, a claim could be filed against your home owner's insurance and you could be ultimately responsible.


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