A major consumer issue today in Southeast Texas revolves around home contractor scams. Almost everyone in this reading area knows of someone that has been scammed by a contractor. Could be a neighbor, a relative, or even themselves.
Contractors have walked away from jobs without finishing them, have walked away without any work at all after receiving a large deposit from the homeowner, and have performed shoddy work and refuse to fix it. The list goes on and on.
Contractor scams cost the homeowner money because of damage caused to the home, because they can lead to more work to repair bad work, and just as important for those of us flooded by Hurricane Harvey – because it keeps you out of your home longer.
If you have a project that needs doing, first, you have to find a contractor to do your work. How do you do that? Friends and family head the list of sources. The next source would be local advertisements, such as in the Orange Leader, or even road signs.
Don’t just find one contractor; I am not alone in stressing that you should get quotes from at least three different contractors.
Once you have selected at least three contractors, how can you be assured that they are reputable and produce quality work? If you don’t personally know the contractor and are familiar with his work, how can you gain a higher level of trust to make a judgement?
My recommendation is to rely on a third party, a third party that you trust, preferably a local third party that you trust.
The best references come from people you know that have used the contractor. Another, but less trustworthy, are references the contractor gives you from his customers that you don’t know.
The amount of trust that you need to have in order to select a contractor relates directly to risk, dollar risk. The risk to you on a $25,000 job is a lot more than it would be for a $250 job.
In today’s world, we look to the internet to find reviews. According to a “2017 Local Consumer Review Survey”, the Better Business Bureau sits right behind Google in the top 4 review sites for local searches online (15% for BBB, 16% for Google).[i]
Unlike Google, the BBB has a local presence here in SETX, with an office in downtown Beaumont covering the Golden Triangle.
The BBB encourages businesses, both large and small, to support 8 basic “Standards of Trust”: (1) build trust (2) advertise honestly, (3) tell the truth, (4) be transparent, (5) honor promises, (6) be responsive, and (7) safeguard privacy, and (8) embody integrity.
In addition to online consumer reviews, the BBB encourages the public to file consumer complaints with them about businesses and they will act as an ombudsman to try and resolve the problem. Whatever the outcome, the complaint and the response from the business are recorded for the public in their online database.
Local businesses that subscribe to the 8 basic Standards of Trust and support the efforts of the BBB are referred to as “accredited businesses” and are allowed to use the BBB logo to signify this higher level of trust.
If I were looking for a contractor and had to choose from several unknowns, I would look to local advertisements to get a list. Then I would go to the BBB website for a review; I might go to Google or Facebook too. That could cut the possibles down to a short list. If any contractors on the short list were “accredited businesses” they would get extra points in my book.
Unfortunately, there is no easy way to guarantee that your choice is the best one. You can only cut down on the risk by doing some homework. When the job is done – whether it’s fantastically good work or otherwise, please go back to the BBB website (and whatever others you used) and provide a review so that others who come after you can benefit from your efforts.
And, for the contractors, go make sure the BBB has you listed and get some reviews on BBB.org, Google, Facebook, and Yelp.
[i] BrightLocal.com is a Search Marketing firm that helps local businesses grow their online presence. With a staff of about 85 people, they are headquartered in the UK, with branch offices in Ukraine and the Philippines. They have published a “Local Consumer Review Survey” every year since 2010. (https://www.brightlocal.com/learn/local-consumer-review-survey-2016/)