LITTLE ROCK — Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel on Wednesday issued a Consumer Alert,
urging consumers to be cautious in their selection of contractors in the wake of last week’s winter storm.
“We’ve seen so many examples of neighbors helping neighbors as they recover from the storm, and while events like this bring out the best in almost all Arkansans, it unfortunately brings out the worst in a few others,” McDaniel said in a news release. “Hopefully, consumers can avoid those con artists and prevent a bad situation from becoming worse.”
McDaniel advised consumers to always obtain estimates from several contractors before paying for work, even if it may be necessary to act quickly. Even during normal circumstances, the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division often receives complaints about tree-trimming services that seem to be vastly overcharging consumers for work. So, getting estimates from at least three different contractors is in a consumer’s best interest.
McDaniel also encouraged consumers to select contractors they know and trust, whenever possible. Consumers should talk with friends and family to see if they have any recommendations regarding reputable contractors, ask the businesses for references, or check out a business’ track record through the Better Business Bureau.
Consumers should also make sure that contracts are put into writing. A contract should indicate exactly what is to be done, the quality of materials to be used and an expected completion date. The contract should always include details about the price and any required financing.
For any payment that requires funds expected to be received from an insurance carrier, consumers should deal with their insurance carriers directly, rather than authorizing the contractor to negotiate with the insurance provider. The Attorney General’s Office has pursued litigation against several contractors who have taken insurance proceeds without completing a job.
Finally, consumers should never pay in advance for any type of repair or debris-removal service. A payment plan that involves paying a third in advance, a third while the work is ongoing and a third at the end of the job is preferable. Consumers should always be able to inspect the completed work before final payment.
For more information about “storm chasers” or other consumer-related issues, visit the Consumer Protection Division website at www.GotYourBackArkansas.org or call (800) 482-8982.