Omaha, Nebraska homeowner, Patricia Spellman, paid $500 down for a new garage door in January.
Its now May and her old garage door is still there and can’t be opened. Spellman said, “Rain, sleet snow and hail and I can’t protect my vehicle because I have to park it outside.”
Spellman wrote Garage Door s Systems of Bellevue a $500 check four months ago. Patricia said, “They cashed it within four days.” Since then she’s made up to 35 calls to the company with no new door or any indication when she might get one.
Garage Door Systems has an F rating with the Better Business Bureau. The BBB has received 15 complaints the past three years, most of them from customers who put money down but didn’t receive their garage doors.
Garage Door Systems eventually did put in one garage door and issued a refund to another customer.
This spring it’s a different story for Patricia Spellman with no door or refund.
Patricia said, “I Googled them after the fact and found complaints and stories they had done this is the past. So do your research.”
Her contract listed three phone numbers for Garage Door Systems. Two have been disconnected. A message left on the third number hadn’t been returned.
It’s always best to investigate the companies you do business with. Make sure the company is a state licensed contractor that is also bonded and insured. You can also check with the International Door Association (www.doors.org). Lastly, it’s always best to check your local BBB first!
Homeowners around the country have been swindled, conned or tricked by dishonest garage door installers or companies. There are a variety of tactics that these unscrupulous individuals use to rip off customers. So what do you do?
You can check out a company before doing business with them by simply doing a Google search, including the city or state. If a company has been charging exorbitant prices or performing shoddy work, comments about them will often show up. You can also check sites like www.ripoffreport.com.
DASMA, the garage door industry trade organization, also exposes unscrupulous door companies at times. You can search door companies in their search engine.
Another excellent way to check out a company is to check with the Better Business Bureau.
The best thing to to is to educated yourself and watch for these warning signs of a possible scam:
- No Price Quote Before Work Is Done. DO NOT agree to any work (except the initial diagnostic fee) until you have received a firm bid in writing, have signed it to give authorization and you have received a copy.
- Phones Answered By A Distant Call Center Or A Recording. Call centers located in distant states or foreign countries may signal problems. Phone recorders are another way Bad Bob tries to stay anonymous.
- No Name, No Caller ID. Do they answer the phone with their advertised business name? If they operate under several business names, they often answer the phone with a generic response, such as, “Garage door service.”
- Years in Business Unknown. This is a possible indication of instability and lack of experience in the industry.
- No Local Showroom and Office. Companies with no local office or showroom may be trying to stay anonymous or hard to track down in the event of a problem.
- No Contractor License # Listed In The Ad. This is the law. Do not trust any garage door company that doesn’t show its license #.
- No Professional Memberships, Accreditations or Certifications. Reliable companies are generally affiliated with one or more professional organizations with standards and codes of conduct such as IDA (International Door Association), DASMA (Door & Access Systems Manufacturer’s Association International), BBB (Better Business Bureau), ISO (International Organization for Standardization), UL (Underwriter’s Laboratories Registered Firm) and others. You can more likely trust a technician who has been certified and a company that has been accredited by IDEA (Institute for Door Education and Accreditation).
- High Pressure. Do not succumb to high pressure sales tactics. Does the technician pressure you to make a quick decision? Does the technician claim that your family or property is in danger if the proposed repair or replacement isn’t done immediately?
- Surprise Visit. Be wary if a company knocks on your door, claiming to have a special deal.
- Pre-Payment. Do they demand payment in full before the project is complete? Never pay for an entire job in advance. Avoid paying in cash whenever possible.