The BBB Serving Northern Indiana has seen a recent spike in complaints related to door-to-door residential driveway paving contractors in the area.
As summer continues and weather is suitable for home repairs, itinerant paving companies may approach you with a knock on the door, or by leaving a flyer on your porch. BBB wants consumers to be wary of dishonest businesses taking advantage of homeowners this summer.
BBB recently opened an investigation into two of these companies, Triple T Asphalt/Jack Riley (Fort Wayne) and M&S Roofing (Mishawaka), after multiple consumers reported the contractors as possible scammers this month. Neither company is rated with the BBB.
An elderly farm owner in northeastern Allen County lost $5,100 after Triple T Asphalt said they were in the area doing work for the state highway and had extra asphalt they could offer for “a great price.” The contractor laid down two truckloads of recycled asphalt but did not cover the entire driveway and what they did cover, according to the victim, wasn’t very thick and is already coming apart. He fears it won’t hold up very well against the heavy semi traffic at the farm. The work, he said, was shoddy at best. The contractor had no business card and his heavy equipment and machinery were not marked with a company name. The victim was asked to write the check out to “Jack Riley.”
The same week, a northwest Indiana woman reported that she lost $2,500 when three men in a truck carrying only a magnetic M&S Roofing sign approached her and offered to reseal her driveway. The contractor told her the “special price” of $2,500 was only available for one day, and for cash-paying customers only. After paying the M&S Roofing workers in cash, they ran out of materials before they could finish and never returned the next day, as promised. The homeowner attempted to reach out to the company multiple times and was told they’d return to start the entire job over in exchange for the homeowners’ inconvenience. The contractor still has not returned to complete the work.
A door-to-door contractor may offer a very low price or a short time frame for completing the job while using high-pressure sales tactics. They also rarely have paperwork for estimates or invoices with legitimate addresses. In order to avoid a negative experience with any contracting company, BBB recommends that consumers look for the following red flags:
They want to deal with cash-only. Most reputable businesses will accept checks or credit cards. It is also best not to pay more than one-third of the agreed-upon price upfront.
They use high-pressure sales tactics. Any trustworthy business will give you time to think about your decision. Ultimately, if you do not feel comfortable with the situation, then it is okay to walk away.
They say they have “leftover materials”. Most trustworthy contractors are professionals and know how much materials they will need for a job. It is very rare that they would have a large amount of materials leftover.
They use unmarked equipment or vehicles. These vehicles do not clearly display the company’s name, address and contact information and it is unclear where the company is located. If the contractor is from another state, be cautious. This may be a sign that they are a scammer or will not easily be able to return to your home if a problem arises.
Homeowners can find a list of monitored, screened and approved Accredited Businesses by searching at BBB.org. While most salespeople and contractors are legitimate, BBB recommends homeowners consider these tips when hiring a reputable contractor to work on your driveway or on any other home-improvement project in your home:
• Search for a contractor’s Business Profile at BBB.org to find free information on their history of complaints, read verified customer reviews, and see if they are an Accredited Business. BBB Accredited Businesses make a commitment to uphold BBB’s accreditation standards. Search online for the name of the company online along with “Complaint,” “Review” or “Scam” to find different results.
• Ask the contractor for recent local references you may contact. Ask the references about the services performed, their overall experience with the contractor, quality of the work, whether the contractor stuck to the estimated budget and completion date for the project.
• Get at least three quotes from different businesses. Make sure all bids consider the same set of criteria.
• Get estimates in writing and never let any work begin without a written and signed contract. Do not be pressured into signing an agreement before you are ready, and make sure you read and understand everything before signing. Never sign an incomplete or partially blank contract.
• Before work begins, confirm the company has all the necessary licenses, insurance and permits to work in your region. Check licensing requirements with your city or county’s building department. Once you have your contractor’s insurance information, call the carrier to confirm appropriate coverage for worker’s compensation, property damage and personal liability in case of accidents.
• Never pay in full up front. Stagger your payments so your final payment is not due until the work is complete and fully inspected. Do not pay cash; make sure your check is written to a company, not an individual, or that you use a credit card. Paying with a credit card will provide some recourse should the job not be completed as stated in the contract.
• Request a receipt marked “Paid in Full” when the job is completed, and your final payment made.
• Hold on to your contract for future reference or in case any questions arise after the work is complete.