Dallas, TX, September 9, 2010 – Tornadoes, high winds, pouring rain, and flooding hit the Dallas and Northeast Texas area on Wednesday, September 8, and now the clean-up is underway. Homeowners and business owners in Dallas and Ellis counties and surrounding areas are coping with downed fences, fallen trees and branches, damaged roofs, water-soaked property, and damaged cars.
The Better Business Bureau serving Dallas and Northeast Texas advises customers to take steps to protect property and minimize damage. If you need to make any temporary repairs, be sure to keep receipts because you may need those for an insurance claim. Notify your insurance agent as soon as possible to start your claim and find out how the insurance company can help.
Reduce the chances of even more problems by choosing repair businesses carefully. It’s not unusual after a severe storm for unreliable contractors, whether from the Dallas area or from out of town, to target customers who need repairs. The BBB offers these tips to help customers find repair services to trust:
Get more than one bid. It's a good idea to get two or three bids, and compare materials, service, and guarantee, not just price.
Know the company you're dealing with. Ask for – and check out – customer references. Check out the business with the BBB at www.bbb.org or in Dallas call 214-220-2000, or in surrounding areas call 1-800-705-3994. A BBB Reliability Report on a business lists basic information on the business as well as the BBB rating, which ranges from A+ to F. The BBB rating is based on several elements, including whether there have been customer complaints and if so, whether complaints are resolved. In addition, businesses that meet BBB accreditation standards are shown as BBB Accredited Businesses. If the BBB has no report on the business, that's neither approval nor disapproval.
Be alert for unreliable contractors who may pour in after the storm. Some contractors who follow storms may charge high prices for shoddy work, or leave jobs unfinished. Look for these red flags: Be cautious of contractors who solicit business door-to-door with vague information; drive unmarked trucks; have no local physical address or phone; or use scare tactics ("That chimney's about to fall") or high pressure ("This price is good today only"). You can check out contractors based anywhere in the country at www.bbb.org.
Read and understand the contract and guarantee. The contract should include a written description of the work to be done, and the price of labor and materials. If the company makes any verbal promises (such as "We'll take away the cut tree limbs"), make sure those promises are in writing. The guarantee should describe what's covered by the guarantee, for how long, and what the company will do to honor the guarantee.
Keep down payments reasonable. It's not unusual for a repair service to ask for some money down. But if you're not comfortable with the down payment that's being requested, ask the company to agree on a smaller down payment. One rule of thumb is to avoid paying more than about a third to a half of the total as a down payment. Don't pay the entire amount in advance. Make payments by check or credit card, made out to the company, not in cash.
Don't make the final payment or sign a completion agreement until all the work is done to your satisfaction. Don't fall for high pressure or promises to return and take care of final details. It may be difficult to get the company to return once the job is paid for and signed off.
Find a BBB Accredited Business. To be BBB accredited, businesses must meet BBB Standards of Trust. Start at www.bbb.org and click on “Find a BBB Accredited Business”. These are just some of the available categories:
Fire and Water Restoration
Auto Repair & Service
Auto Body Repair & Painting
Try BBB’s “Request a Quote” service. Ask for bids on the service you need from BBB Accredited Businesses. Start at www.bbb.org. In the section “BBB For Consumers”, click on “Request a Quote from BBB Accredited Businesses.” Select the category you are interested in. Then select a BBB Accredited Business from the list and within the business listing click on “Request a Quote”.
About the BBB
The Better Business Bureau of Metropolitan Dallas, Inc., is an independent, non-profit organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. Businesses that earn BBB accreditation contractually agree and adhere to the organization's high standards of ethical business behavior. BBB provides services for both BBB Accredited Businesses and non-accredited businesses. BBB services include BBB Reliability Reports® on businesses, complaint resolution services, advertising review, and information on topics affecting marketplace trust. The BBB serving Dallas and Northeast Texas was founded in 1920 and is one of 124 BBBs serving the U.S. and Canada. The BBB System evaluates and monitors more than 3 million local and national businesses and charities. Please visit www.bbb.org for more information.