Monday, January 28, 2008

Whenever I receive emails from people who have been burned by their contractors, there is one common element that always comes through: Trust.

We trusted the contractor. We trusted he would pay his sub contractors. We trusted he knew what he was doing. We trusted he got the permits. We trusted he would come back the next day to make the repairs. We trusted...

Trust is something that is earned. You just don't arbitrarily trust every person who you come in contact with be it personally or professionally. There are people from all walks of life who can't be trusted. That's common sense. How would you know?

You know it from how people behave, what they say and do and to a certain extent how they are perceived by others - their reputation. When it comes to contractors, your research including talking with past clients helps you to form an opinion. By doing all the background checks you'll then be more confident about your choice But you don't based it on trust-that has yet to be earned as you begin working together. Based on his/her performance as your project begins you'll begin to trust him. Or not. If you made your choice intellectually rather than blindly trusting, you'll likely have a good experience.

Folks who didn't take the time to check out their contractor of choice got burned badly. They fell prey to someone who was charming or perhaps good at putting on a false front and they bought it. Half the time they're licensed but just because someone is licensed does not necessarily mean that they are going to be ethical or perform quality work. Very often the homeowners will admit that they just didn't take the time to checkout the contractor thoroughly but figured he was such a nice person and talked a good game.

I'll share a short story with you about a woman whose home was lost to the Southern California wildfires back several years ago. It was actually told by an investigator from the CSLB to a group of homeowners who were attending the San Diego Rebuilds! event where I was on the "Don't Get Scammed" panel with her and others. The woman who lost her home to the fires ultimately received a check from her home insurance company for several hundred thousand dollars. Never having had that kind of money given to her in one lump sum made her uneasy. When she went to hire a contractor to rebuild her home she gave the entire amount over to the contractor. She NEVER saw the contractor again. He closed up shop, left the state - who knows what island he's enjoying himself on. When the investigator asked her why she gave him all the money upfront, the woman told her she didn't trust herself. And now she's living in a trailer probably for the rest of her life.

So much for trusting the contractor.

Monday, January 14, 2008

The Contractors State License Board has brought to my attention a scam operation that is going on not only in California but other states as well.

It has to do with electrial service and repair companies who do extensive advertising in the yellow pages and print ads and is run by some unsavory characters looking to rip off unsuspecting homeowners, particularly the elderly.

The ads claim low fees and service charges. But, once at the house, the service technician pressures the customer into unneeded repairs. In the more than 65 complaints filed with the CSLB, the average cost for a service call and repairs is more than $1,000.

The Nevada Contractors Board has also issued an alert to homeowners in their state as has the CSLB.

The following are a list of the names, license numbers and addresses of these companies to date and the press releases issued on this group of individuals follows:

USA Services, Inc.
USA Services
775863 900 E. Hamilton Avenue, Suite 100
Campbell, CA 95008
Estine AkopyanChief Executive Officer
American Home Repairs, Inc.
American Plumbing & Electric
834206 777 Campus Commons Road, #200
Sacramento, CA 95825
Seroj Avedian

Russel Pal-A Gillies
Responsible Managing Officer

Responsible Managing Officer
RMM Plumbing & Electrical, Inc.
ASAP Electric
833296 3017 Douglas Blvd., #300
Roseville, CA 95661
Seroj AvedianResponsible Managing Officer
Speedy Plumbing & Electrical, Inc.
59 Minute Service
837697 777 Campus Commons Road, #200
Sacramento, CA 95825
Ivica Johan NjegovecResponsible Managing Officer

If you've had an experience with any of these companies or someone you believe has tried to deceive you in this way, contact your state's Contractor's Board, Consumer Protection Agency or your Attorney General's office and file your complaint.