Handyman Services Auburn Hills: Beware of Handyman Scams

Tips from your friendly neighborhood Auburn Hills Handyman:

There are scam artists in every industry. Due to tough economic times and the decline in real estate values, real estate scams and mortgage scams are at an all time high. Another common scam to watch out for is the home repair or home improvement scam.

Handyman scam artists often take advantage of the elderly. A charming young man can easily gain the trust of an older woman who lives alone. He knows she is not capable of maintaining her home by her self, so he will approach her and offer to cut grass, rake leaves or shovel snow. He might even do the work one time to show “good faith.” Then he will offer to inspect the roof, basement, plumbing, electrical, etc…Of course he will spot a potential “problem” and offer a solution. The materials will be quite expensive, so he’ll give her a break on the labor, but she will have to give him the money up front so he can buy supplies.

See where this is headed? Anyone, regardless of their age or gender can easily be scammed if they are not careful. Your best defense is knowing what to look for. An offer that sounds “too good to be true” usually is. Here are some of the most popular scams a handyman uses:

Door Knocking: In most cases, people who go door to door selling a service are not worth your time. Door knocking is for selling Girl Scout cookies or Boy Scout calendars or children who are participating in school fundraisers. Reputable businesses are advertised on the internet, TV, Yellow Pages (remember those?) or direct mailing.

Even worse than scamming, the door knocking handyman might have other plans. Do not let him into your home without verifying that he is a reputable handyman. He might be there to scope your place out to see if you have anything of value for him to come back and steal later. Or worse, a rapist or serial killer. (I know; this only happens on TV, right?) You can never be too careful.

Fly-by-Night Handyman: This is the handyman who goes door-to-door, gains your trust, takes your money, and you never see him again. If he does give you a business card, the phone number is disconnected and the business doesn’t exist. He is long gone by the time you realize what has happened.

Lowest Price of the Year: This call-to-action sales technique is very popular among many different businesses and services. Most businesses offer specials throughout the year. Rarely does a business only have one sale, never to be offered again. If you are approached by a handyman offering a one-time special or lowest price of the season, ask for evidence that this is really the lowest price they have ever charged. They should be able to show you something, like a past catalog or a dated price list.

Work Portfolio: Beware of the handyman who offers you a great deal on home repairs so he can use your home as a model and show photos of his work to other potential clients. Chances are he will make expensive home improvements and repairs that you really do not need done. If he doesn’t already have a portfolio of his completed work, then he obviously is not experienced. A reputable handyman service will already have before and after photos to show you. An occupied home is not an appropriate model for a handyman service to use.

Cash up Front: This is a big red flag. It is true that some companies require a deposit, especially if they are customizing something that will only work in your home. For example, if you are ordering replacement windows, they have to take measurements and have them made. Windows are not typically a standard size, like doors, so once they have been made, money has been spent, and the contractor loses if you change your mind.

A reasonable down payment is expected to cover materials, but it should not exceed 25 – 30 percent of the total estimate. Paying in full up front sets you up for the fly-by-night contractor scam. Always keep the handyman motivated by paying in installments as work is completed, with the final payment being released upon your 100% satisfaction.

Avoiding Scams:

The Better Business Bureau is the most popular way to check out a handyman service or home repair contractor. Anyone who is in this business and not a member of the BBB could be a scammer. The Department of Consumer Protection is another good resource. Both of these agencies will be able to provide a history of consumer complaints, lawsuits and verification of license. Your local state licensing board will also be able to verify the status of your handyman’s license.

The bottom line is take the time to do your research. You know if you need home repairs or home improvement projects done. You don’t need to learn this from a door knocker. Get several estimates, check references, get referrals from friends and family, and never sign a contract unless you are comfortable with the terms and understand it completely.

Antony Bradley, owner of HandyPro Handyman Services is your friendly neighborhood handyman who serves residents and consumers in Northern Oakland County. He won’t come knocking on your door, but his is waiting for your call and he is eager to provide professional, quality service.

HandyPro Handyman Services is a member of the Better Business Bureau; check out their profile at http://www.bbb.org/eastern-michigan/business-reviews/handyman-services/handypro-handyman-service-inc-in-plymouth-mi-32020168/

What’s on your to-do list? HandyPro Handyman Services offers affordable solutions to a wide variety of home repairs and maintenance projects. HandyPro specializes in helping the homeowner, business or property manager have minor repairs completed professionally, in a timely manner, and guarantees 100% customer satisfaction.

Hiring a Handyman, Carpentry, Plaster, Drywall, Acoustic Ceilings, Grout tub, fix leaky faucet, home warranty/maintenance, paint home, caulk bathtub, replace locks, garage doors, cabinets, countertops, fix running toilet, repair squeaky door, install molding, security services, stained glass, door repair/install, drywall repair, painting, kitchen, insulation, concrete, masonry, repair gutters, remove wallpaper, replace ceiling fan, caulk awning, siding repair, install shelves, organizers, ceramic tile, window well covers, replace bathroom fan, draperies, blinds, shades, glass, mirrors, decks, and much more…just ask!

Antony Bradley serves consumers and business owners in North Oakland County, Clarkston, Lake Orion, Lake Orion Heights, Auburn Hills, Rochester, Rochester Hills, Oxford, Romeo, Washington, Oakland, Lake Angelus and neighboring cities and communities.

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