With the holiday’s soon approaching the cold weather is right behind, bringing along chimney scam season for consumers to worry about. This time of year several consumers start looking to get their chimney’s cleaned in preparation for the cold months ahead. However, the Better Business Bureau is advising consumers to research and know which businesses to trust and which to avoid so their hard earned dollars don’t go up in smoke.
The BBB System has received close to 250 complaints against chimney cleaners, which mirrors the year-to-date complaint volume received in 2012.
Chimney sweeping is not something that homeowners deal with often, so we might lack knowledge of the cleaning process. Many scammers take full advantage of this and do shoddy work … or no work at all. One case involved a chimney sweep with just a Shop-Vac.
In other cases, consumers have reported calls stating the town fire department recommends the resident’s chimney be cleaned. The calls go on to recommend a particular chimney sweep and endorse their services on behalf of the fire department.
Though town fire departments do recommend having chimneys cleaned on an annual basis, they do not endorse any particular company or inspect chimneys.
Many scam artists are targeting the elderly, making vague, unclear phone calls or showing up at their door claiming they have done business in the past and it is time for their annual sweep.
Some less-than-reputable companies will advertise at a much lower price than legitimate businesses. Typically, a professional chimney sweep will charge between $100 and $200 for the cleaning of one chimney shaft, whereas scam artists are charging as little as $50. The BBB advises that if a price sounds too good to be true, it usually is.
Many scam artists use a low price tactic to get in your door, at which point they recommend additional work be done immediately, bullying the consumer into a more expensive bill. If the price you are quoted is significantly lower than that of other businesses, it should be viewed as a red flag.
The BBB suggests consumers do their homework before hiring a chimney sweep and inviting them into the home. The BBB recommends using these helpful tips when hiring a chimney sweep:
Check out a chimney sweeping business at bbb.org. Always check with the BBB for a trusted chimney sweeping business in your area. Is it an Accredited Business? Does it have any outstanding complaints? Have those complaints been resolved?
Remember, all companies will eventually get complaints; it is how the company handles those complaints that is most important.
Find out how long it has been in business. How long has it operated in your area? Find out if it offers references, or if you know anyone who has used their services in the past.
Search the Better Business Bureau for Chimney Sweepers in your neighborhood.
Original Article Courtesy of The Augusta Chronicle
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