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Sunday, May 15, 2011

NBC Dateline Report May 15th Shows A Common Scam With Home Repair Workers

Home repair scams can cost you.
There is a sick feeling that goes through your body whenever you have to call a service company for a home repair. You could have a problem with the toilet, a garbage disposal, your hot water heater, air conditioner or furnace. Dateline NBC on May 15th showed a common scam with home repair workers - specifically plumbers.

Making the call to a repair company starts your mind reeling. "How much will this cost? What if it needs to be replaced? Can I trust these guys? Will they mess up my house or make it worse?" In this day and age, trust is hard to offer, even to the most well known companies.

NBC Dateline set up a situation where they merely loosened a nut on the top of the hot water tank. Water trickled out and formed a puddle around the base of the hot water heater. Several service companies were called in and none of them found the problem, but all of them told the homeowner that her hot water heater was shot. One company told her it was corroded. Another just said it was gone. Scare tactics that her tank could explode were given to the homeowner to get her to buy the lie they were selling. You see, her hot water heater was only 3 years old and was in perfect working condition. All that was needed was for the nut on the top to be tightened.

When I was in Las Vegas, I worked for an advertising agency that produced advertising for the largest heating and air conditioning contractor in Sin City. Their primary goal was to sell air conditioning and furnace units, not repair them. However, they were relatively ethical in most cases.

For a variety of reasons, that company no longer exists, but the people who ran it are still trying to make a buck selling air conditioning and heating units in Las Vegas, and the Internet is loaded with complaints, wherever these guys go to set up shop.

To avoid a long legal battle, I'm not going to name them, but this is a forewarning to you that you should research every company that is coming to do repairs in or around your home. With the Internet, it isn't hard for dissatisfied customers to find a forum and vent their frustrations. A simple search on Google or your favorite search engine should give you plenty to think about.

When you do a search, take the time to read the complaints. There may be what looks like dirt on a very reputable company, but the complaints could be from people that no one could make happy. It's up to you to determine if the complaints are noteworthy for a concerned consumer or just sour grapes from a... sour grape.

The best way to find any service company is to get a referral from a friend who has already used their services. You should ask all of your friends, "Who have you used as a plumber? Who fixes or maintains your air conditioner? Who works on your car? Who is a good roofer?"

Advertising, mailers, door hangers, and even door-to-door solicitors have one goal in mind - a sale. And if the company is not on the up-and-up, you're only the next victim. Do your homework, get second opinions and check with your neighbors and friend.

You should also try to view the NBC Dateline Report on May 15th on a common plumbing scam on their website.

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  1. I think it's a shame that the show was cut how it was in Denver. I actually watched the segments on the web, and it's amazing how the producers chose to cut out all examples where the repairmen did what they were supposed to on the repair (One on an unaired segment actually wouldn't take any payment once he fixed the power problem). Many people have been scammed, and I can appreciate recommending solid due diligence prior to selecting a repair service, but at least let's not cut out nearly all positive examples from the show just to get some sensational journalism. This kind of thing can hurt legitimate small businesses that do things with integrity. It would just be nice to see appropriate balance (which was there before they cut the show down).

  2. MG - I agree. I've seen some horrendous journalism over the years and it can be very one sided. Dirt sells. Scams sell. Adultery sells. Scandal sells. The nice stories get lost.

    That is why I recommend contractors to have a BLOG. Get customer testimonials on there. Offer tips about seasonal maintenance. Tell people how much AC they need for their home, etc. If you're the guy with the honest info, you'll be trusted and get more business.

    Read my blog course under MAKE MONEY tab at the top.

  3. If that means coming back to fix something, they will do that. Home repair contractors want you to be the next "word of mouth" customer for them and that means a happy customer. painters in chicago


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