EDITORIAL — Better Business Bureau warns of storm chasers
Published 12:02 am Saturday, September 5, 2020
The recent damage done by Hurricane Laura in Southeast Texas and Southwest Louisiana brings out the best in people, as strangers reach out to help others in need.
Unfortunately, the aftermath of a crisis also brings out contractors who take advantage of those who have already been victimized.
Better Business Bureau Serving Southeast Texas is warning local residents affected by the recent storms to beware of storm chasers and out-of-town contractors soliciting business.
“It is not uncommon for out-of-town storm chasers to solicit business after storms like the ones we had last week,” said Liz Fredrichs, President of the Better Business Bureau Serving SETX. “Storm chasers may not have proper licensure for your area and may offer quick fixes or make big promises to which they won’t deliver.”
Your BBB offers the following tips for storm victims:
• Only do business with licensed or bonded contractors or builders. Consult the Better Business Bureau to ensure you are working with a trustworthy business.
• Most subcontractors do not require licensing in Texas. Make sure you require a current certificate of insurance before they begin work.
• Jefferson County requires a windstorm WPI-8 certificate from roofing contractors, verify your contractor has a current certificate before work starts.
• Request a list of recent customer referrals and call them for their experience.
• Know that under Texas law, the door-to-door seller must advise you orally and in writing that you have a right to cancel the sale within three days. Resist high-pressure sales tactics from any contractor.
• Try to get at least 3-4 quotes from contractors, and insist that payments be made to the company, not an individual.
• Do not pay for the job in advance. Be wary of any contractor who demands full or half payment upfront.
• Get a written contract that specifies the price, the work to be done, the amount of liability insurance coverage maintained by the contractor, and a time frame. Pay by credit card, if possible; you may have additional protection if there’s a problem.
• Check that the contractor’s vehicle has signs or markings on it with the business name, phone number and license plates for your state.
BBB is warning area contractors to beware of storm chasers who are willing to pay local construction company’s substantial amounts of money to use a local business’ established name, reputation and phone so they can masquerade as a local business.
We have seen this happen in other areas of the country. After doing repairs paid by insurance companies, the out-of-state contractors left the area. Many contractors who agreed to let these storm chasers use their name regret their decision once they were left holding the bag of unsatisfied customers due to bad workmanship and/or unfulfilled warranties.
Disaster victims should never feel forced to make a hasty decision or to choose an unknown contractor. Start With Trust.
For reliable information, lists of BBB Accredited Businesses by industry and BBB Business Reviews you can trust on local businesses, visit BBB.org or call 409-835-5348.