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Take the Chill off Choosing a Contractor

Nov. 5, 2013

As the winter winds blow in blistery temperatures and plenty of snow, the Better Business Bureau Serving Wisconsin is issuing a warning to make sure that seasonal services won’t leave you even more bitter than the chilly weather.

“At this time of year, people look for seasonal work often without doing the necessary research first”, warns Randall Hoth, CEO/President of the BBB Serving Wisconsin.

“It’s easy to see an ad for a snow plowing service when you’re up to your knees in snow and want to hire them immediately,” he said. “Instead, prepare in advance and do the necessary checking before hiring. Questionable contractors look for opportunities like this to get paid for services up front and then don’t deliver.”

Snow plowers, chimney sweepers, furnace and air duct cleaners, and heating services are typical of firms consumers look to hire this time of year.

The BBB offers this advice regarding searching for seasonal work:

Check with the BBB: Check to make sure the company you are looking to hire hasn’t had complaints, or that complaints have been resolved. Also, click on “Find an Accredited Business” and then the type of business you are looking to hire (example, “snow removal”) at to find accredited service providers in your area.

Verify. Make sure that the business meets all state and local requirements, including any necessary licensing. If you are unsure, ask for references from previous jobs. If they cannot provide you with those, look elsewhere for help.

Beware of storm chasers. Especially when winter storm alerts are issued. They might offer services they cannot deliver and ask for payment upfront. Be wary of hiring people right before or right after a big snow or cold front moves in.

Don’t feel pressured. Do not make a quick decision when hiring. A reputable firm will wait for you to do your research. Beware if high pressure sales tactics are used or payment in full is demanded up front.

Payment. Always pay with credit card or check, not cash. Never pay in full for services until they are completed and to your satisfaction.
Document. Make sure to obtain documentation of the transaction. Get a contract and ask for a business card. Be sure you have the company’s complete name, address and phone number.

For more information or further inquiries, contact the Wisconsin BBB at or 414-847-6000 (metro Milwaukee)

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