by: Rachel Stockman Updated:
ROSWELL, Ga. - A north Fulton County family says contractors cashed their check for thousands of dollars, but never removed the tree from their property after a recent storm
The Atlanta Better Business Bureau is warning consumers about contractors trying to take advantage of people who have storm damage on their property. Representatives with the BBB said they’ve received an increased number of calls with similar complaints.
Homeowners Pao and Ryan Strickland showed Channel 2’s Rachel Stockman the storm damage to their Roswell home after a recent storm sent huge branches on their home.
Pao Strickland said she posted on Facebook asking for referrals and two men showed up to her home. The Stricklands said it was the weekend, so they were having trouble getting any other contractors to return their calls.
“I had a feeling they knew we had nowhere else to turn so they took advantage of us,” Ryan Strickland told Stockman. The Stricklands signed a contract and wrote a check out for $2,300 up front
“I felt like that was a bit of a red flag, but we felt between a rock and a hard place, we didn’t know what else to do. It was the weekend, rain the next day,” Ryan Strickland said.
Ryan Strickland said the contractors did remove some of the branches from their roof, but in an attempt to cut a branch off the tree they caused more damaged when the branch smashed into their home.
“Not only did they not do their work that we paid them for, they never finished the job and they added insult to injury by damaging our property,” Ryan Strickland said. The tree is still sitting on the Strickland’s property
Channel 2 Action News tracked down the Strickland’s contractor on the phone. He said, despite what the contract said about tree removal, he never agreed to take down the tree.
“Apparently in the way they work, we are not the first time for them,” said Pao Strickland.
The Better Business Bureau put out these recommendations to consumers about contractors:
- Be wary of door-to-door workers who show up unsolicited offering to make repairs. This includes companies offering to remove fallen trees and branches.
- Check with your insurance company about policy coverage and specific filing requirements. Keep copies of receipts for emergency repairs for reimbursement later.
- Although you may be anxious to get things back to normal, avoid acting in haste. Don't be pressured into signing a long-term contract.
- Make temporary repairs if necessary.
- Take time to shop around for contractors, get competitive bids, and check out the contractor with the BBB at bbb.org. Check to make sure any contractors you are considering hiring are properly licensed and have up-to-date workers compensation and liability insurance. Make sure they are approved by your insurance company before entering an agreement. Ask to see proof of their licensing and current certificate of insurance.
- Be aware that if you hire an uninsured and unlicensed contractor and a serious injury were to occur to the contractor, you, as the person that hired them, could potentially be liable for paying the workers compensation benefits. This could turn a simple $1,000 repair into a bill for tens of thousands more. In addition, a neighboring property, a passerby or other property that is negligently damaged by an unlicensed contractor can become a liability to the person that hired the contractor.
- BBB can provide you a list of BBB Accredited Businesses to choose from, including roofers, tree removal companies, fence companies and other home repair businesses. Please visit http://www.bbb.org/atlanta/accredited-business-directory to search.
- Get everything in writing. Prepare a written agreement with anyone you hire that outlines the work to be done, the materials to be used, and the price breakdown for both labor and materials. Review it carefully before signing. Vague clauses such as “repair siding” are invitations for abuse.
- Never pay the full amount of repairs in advance. 30% is a standard down payment. Pay with a credit card if possible; credit cards offer you more protection if the work is not completed as specified.
Consumers should check out a company before hiring them to do work. You can even check out someone who shows up unbidden at your door while they are standing on your front porch by going to bbb.org on your smartphone by visiting http://www.bbb.org/council/programs-services/stay-connected-to-bbb/iphone/