Watch out for summertime doorstep pitches

By Robb Hicken/ BBB’s chief storyteller

Ada County resident Nancy Kozlowski, and her husband, Joseph, was so concerned about the paving company installing asphalt on their neighbor’s drive that she called to verify the company’s trustworthiness.

“The price was just too good to believe,” she says of the pitch made to her by the company. “They said they could put in 300 feet of asphalt on my driveway for just about $6,000.”

The company went from her doorstep to the neighbor, who accepted an offer.

Her driveway is nothing but a dirt lane, and she knew a good road base, gravel and grading would be needed to put the asphalt down or it would crack up.

“I’ve been driving up this lane for so many years, I think I can drive up it another 15 years,” she says.

BBB has received calls from Eagle, New Plymouth, Tetonia and Garden City about paving companies doing work in the Snake River Region.

A New Plymouth homeowner says company representatives of the same company that approached Kozlowski misrepresented their identity. At times, she was confused with whom she was dealing.

In Tetonia, the sales rep said he was from Idaho Falls, but the truck had Menokan, N.D., on the door and license plates from North Dakota.

A Boise man says he was standing on his driveway when a company representative approached him about paving his driveway with “extra asphalt he’d had left over from a previous job.”

Summertime brings a warning to not do business off the doorstep.

Door-to-door asphalt paving companies, roofing repairs, lawn services, and other seasonal workers are making the rounds trying to find work. Remember, just because someone shows up on your doorstep doesn’t mean you need to panic or react.

Faulty bids, underpricing, overpricing, bad contracts, and partly done work have been reported. Old or bad contact information on business cards, printed estimates, or agreements provide little or no help to homeowners.

Watch for the warning signs:

  • There are leftover materials from another job. Professional asphalt contractors know, with great accuracy, how much paving material is needed to complete each project. Rarely will they have large quantities of leftover material.
  • You are pushed to make a quick decision. Trustworthy contractors will provide a written estimate that will be valid for days or weeks. It should specify in detail the work to be performed and the total price. They also don’t mind you checking them out before signing a contract.
  • Never do business off the porch. Check with BBB.org before buying. Research the company before agreeing to job.
  • Cash-only sales. Most reputable contractors will take checks or credit cards.
  • The company is from out-of-state. Look at the truck the representative travels in. If it is unmarked or has an out-of-state license plate, be cautious. Even if the representative claims to have a local phone number, scammers can easily purchase disposable cell phones to provide a local number in the area they are soliciting. Also, don’t be afraid to ask to see their driver’s license.

If you suspect you are dealing with a questionable paving company, contact the local police or sheriff’s departments immediately and then contact BBB.

– This column first appeared in the Idaho Statesman, June 5 edition.

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1 Comment

Filed under News You Can Trust

One response to “Watch out for summertime doorstep pitches

  1. Mark Burrows

    Basically, the best jobs are the ones you do yourself. Yes, the thought of doing something you never have done before is daunting to think about, but before you make any decision just pick up the appropriate do it yourself book for the project, and read it not just once, but twice. You will be amazed how this will increase your resolve and determination to do it yourself.
    There are pros and cons of asphalt vs concrete, but in the long term, concrete is more durable in extreme weather and has longer life. If you do your drive way in cement, I recommend that you do it in sections, that way if one does get too badly damaged, it is less effort to rip out a section than the entire drive way or doing an unsightly patch job.
    Asphalt is best suit for mild weather and places that rain is common. Not so great in hot arid temperatures, even sealed, because it will start to spread sideways below the seal and soften up. Many folks don’t seal their drives and end up with goo.
    But if you must use a contractor, always check the yellow pages, look for the BBB logo and do not be afraid to barter in an aggressive but polite and friendly manner. Remember, the best companies are very much aware that they are losing business to these fly by night amateurs and are willing to negotiate, they need to both protect their reputation plus they need to keep working.

    Mark Burrows

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