Contractor ripoffs report on Dateline NBC

Did anybody see the report on contractor ripoffs on Dateline NBC, Sunday night. It was pretty scary. Especially, the stories where the homeowner had done the right thing by getting references, signed contract, etc but still got taken to the cleaners. Years ago, while selling kitchen and bath remodeling for Sears in Arizona, I had several calls to finish up after the original contractor had , either, taken the deposit and never came back, or, in one case started the job, got money for the rest of the job, had the materials delivered, picked up the materials and moved back to Mexico, leaving the homeowner with a concrete block shell where he had hoped to have a new kitchen. In one of the NBC stories, a contractor had taken two separate customers for several hundreds of thousands of dollars and then walked off the job leaving the homes nowhere near completion. NBC found the contractor working on a third home where, apparently he had tried the same thing but the customer nipped it in the bud but was forced to hire the contractor to continue on the job as a job supervisor to finish the construction (they controlled the money, then). When the customer agreed to an interview with NBC, the contractor threatened to walk off the job if they talked to NBC, so they backed out. I think all of this happened in California, so perhaps it was to be expected. Seems that California is the home of the "customer ripoff"...even Sears got caught there in a couple of scams.
Tom G.
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Tom G wrote:

No matter how many references or glowing reviews you get on a contractor...you still only have a 50 percent chance of getting your work done right and to proper standards. There are many many professional looking businesses that are licensed bonded and insured....have nice offices and nice trucks...cleancut uniformed employees.... there are many of these places that will jam it right in your ass...... I worked for a Trane HVAC dealer...we were the cream of the crop outfit in our area but the only way you could cut it there was to prematurely condemn parts and equipment...perfectly fine working equipment was routinely diagnosed as "beyond repair" to unsuspecting homeowners by what were basically salesmen in technicians clothing. There were sales quotas that your job depended on and the service training given to employees consisted more on how to sell unneccesary parts and how to scare the cutomer into replacing equipment than how to actually do repairs. The sad thing is that most of the customers actually thought well of the clean cut and courteous and caring persons in the company....most of these people would recommend the company to family and freinds... while in reality they had basically been robbed.
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That's a startling testimonial and entirely credible.
I'm going to quote you.
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Thanks for the field report. I worked for Sears in 1996. I was not impressed with what I saw, in my little piece of the world.
--

Christopher A. Young
You can\'t shout down a troll.
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I had a Sears "approved contractor" give me a bid for an AC unit once. He was twice what I paid to have it done, and he gave me a "bid" on a torn sheet of yellow paper.
Steve
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No I did not see it but I hear about this a lot. A person I know had exterior trim painted on his house. Something you would think is pretty routine work. The guy shows up all professional looking in a $40,000 truck with his briefcase, etc. Then the crew shows up - Cheech and Chong. They get paint all over his brick and stained wood and then they end up unknowingly pulling his exterior hose spigot out of the wall via the hose attached to it and flood his lower level finished area. The damage is in the area of several thousand dollars. His home insurance tells him to go after the guy. Well he literally tracks him down and confronts him after the guy stopped taking his phone calls and of course he has no insurance, rents an apartment and his fancy truck but I bet he has a stash of cash somewhere or in an account not trackable to him. When I see and here this so much why are so many people negative on using Lowes or Home Depot to do such work?? I know they may not be the cheapest or maybe not the best but I would think your chances of getting ripped off would be next to zero which to me would be very important and you also have someone you can go back to talk to if there is a problem down the road.
Steve

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How about the contractor who didn't payoff the subs or the suppliers then you found out a month or later that you have a meahanic's lien on your house even after you paid off the general contractor? Or contractor failed to have the final permit sign off then years later when you're trying to sell the house the city demands you to remove all the previous construction. Or you finally find a few contractors that you like but couple years down the line they are all gone without a trace like a disappearing act.
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I live in FL. There is a lot wrong here, too, but one thing we do have is a place to call b efore you hire anyone and find out if they are licensed, insured and if there have been any reports to consumer protection about wrongdoing. I always check with both places before hiring anyone....it isn't a guarantee but it helps.
Stay tuned though. The state has just started a new program where consumers can have their homes retrofitted to withstand hurricanes and the state will give them matching funds and the insurance companies (maybe) will lower the price of insurance. Home inspectors will come out and give free inspections and make recommendations and give estimates...
Sure hope it works the way it's supposed to work. My husband isn't holding his breath...it may be six months before we can get the inspection. Lots of people on waiting list.
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