As the snow piles up many people may be considering hiring companies and contractors to take care of their home and business snow removal. Your Better Business Bureau (BBB) is warning you to beware of bad business practices taking advantage of the need for snow removal.
Complaints from consumers include:
- Contractor not coming when the snowfall was over the snow amount in the contract
- People having to shovel their own driveways several times to make it to work or other appointments
- Contractor came, but did a poor job and/or damaged property without restitution
- Calls for service never returned
To avoid these and other inconveniences, BBB urges consumers to keep these important tips in mind when hiring snow removal services:
Get more than one estimate. BBB recommends you get at least three estimates before making a decision. Ask for all the costs up front to avoid any surprises. Keep in mind the lowest price doesn’t always mean the best service. Check with BBB.org for free Business Profiles which can provide company information, complaint history and detail, and customer reviews.
Review the contract. Never settle for a verbal agreement. Contractors should always provide a written contract. A representative should visit the property and make notes about services requested and potential obstacles. Get all of the details in writing and always read anything before you sign. Understand cancellation fees and any extra charges that may apply.
Ask about scheduling. Some contractors do snowplow services as a part-time job, and this may affect their availability to clear a driveway when needed. Always check to see if there is a schedule for snow removal.
Ask about insurance. Is the company fully insured in case of damage to property? Be sure to get it in writing on your contract and request a statement from their insurer confirming current liability and workers compensation coverage.
Split the payments. Find out how the company expects payment. Most contracts take two forms: pay-per-plowing or pay-per-season. If you’re expected to pay all fees upfront, consider it a red flag. Most contractors will split fees into two or three payments – one at the beginning, middle, and at the end of the season.
Ask for references. Remember even if a business appears to be reliable, it does not mean that it is. When a company is reluctant to answer questions, won’t supply proper information or is unwilling to offer references – there could be cause for concern.
File a complaint. If you run into a problem that you cannot resolve on your own, file a complaint with BBB so we can help resolve the issue.
Report a scam. If you spot a business or offer that sounds like an illegal scheme or fraud, tell us about it through BBB’s Scam Tracker. BBB’s Scam Tracker provides information on trending scams in our area.