Greater WV Better Business Bureau offers tips, advice for consumers to avoid fraudulent practices
Snow Removal Services
The cold weather has arrived even bringing some snow storms. Are you ready for the season? Many residents are bracing themselves as winter approaches and consumers begin their snow removal plans. Still other homeowners will scramble for help to remove the anticipated mounds of snow since the winter season has marked its first significant snow fall. BBB has heard from consumers already, seeking trusted information about snow removal services. Since complaints are filed every year about these types of businesses, BBB advises consumers and businesses to do their research before hiring a snow removal service.
BBB reports common complaints received from consumers – even though they had paid in advance – include contract confusion, unable to contact the business for services, no show situations leaving them left to dig out themselves and in some cases; the business abruptly went out of business.
BBB urges consumers to keep some important tips in mind when hiring snow removal services to help you out of the storm:
Look for Experience: Each home or business is different and experience can matter. Make certain experience applies to everyone on the snow removal team and not just the business owner. Prices vary widely based on the amount of work, which takes into account the layout of the property, the size of the area requiring clearance, and whether you request removal of snow from other areas such as sidewalks or walkways.
Ask how the contractor schedules jobs. Some contractors plow as a part-time job, and this may affect their availability to plow your driveway when needed.
Get More than One Estimate: There can be a lot of variables that go into consideration with snow removal and BBB recommends you find at least three estimates before you hire. Make sure you know what you’ll be paying upfront to avoid surprises. Keep in mind the lowest price is not always the best indicator for the best service.
Ask about Insurance: Who’s responsible should your home or grounds suffer damage during the winter season? Find out what type of coverage your contractor provides as well as your homeowners insurance. Does your local municipality require the contractor to have a permit or license? Make some calls to find out and then check to make sure your contractor has one.
Review your Contract: Don’t settle for a phone conversation agreement; the contractor should provide a written contract. A company representative should come out to examine your property and make notes about services requested and potential obstacles. Find out how you can terminate the agreement if necessary. Get all of these details in writing and always read before you sign. Know all the terms and conditions of the contract. Understand cancellation fees and any extra charges that may apply.
Split Your Payments: Find out how you’re expected to pay for the services and avoid using cash. Most snow plow contract stake two forms: pay per plowing or pay per season. If you choose a pay per season contract in a light snow season, the contractor is not obligated to refund any money. If you’re expected to pay all fees upfront – consider it a red flag. Most contractors will split your fee into two or three payments – one at the beginning, middle and end of the season.
Get Contact Information: Make sure you know how to contact the company in the case of a snow emergency and know their policies about who to reach, standard contact phone numbers and any special number for urgent needs.
Beware of Scams: Remember even if a business appears to be reliable, it does not mean they are. When a company is reluctant to answer questions, won’t supply proper information or unwilling to offer references –there could be cause for concern. Your money might be spent wisely with another business.
Check with Better Business Bureau: BBB provides background information, complaint history and resolution to complaints in our Business Reviews. Checkout snow removal services at bbb.org and if you can’t find a Business Review, ask the BBB to start one.