Don’t trust door-to-door tradespeople for many good reasons
By Stephen Pate – With the record snowfall in the Northeastern USA and Eastern Canada, homeowners are faced with big snow loads on their roofs. While it may be a good idea to have the snow removed, using a door-to-door trades-person is generally a bad idea.
You can get ripped with poor or incomplete snow removal. Your roof and roofing structures may be damaged. Homeowners who are seniors and disabled are at risk of personal violence.
The same problems can exist with any door-to-door offer of services including snow removal, home repairs or itinerant sales.
A recent bad experience reminds me don’t trust door-to-door preachers, vacuum sales, nor tradespeople and for many good reasons. In the future, I am going back to my list of regular tradespeople and using Kijiji to find people for something new.
It’s always better to select contractors and tradespeople who have a permanent business address, are licensed the government, have insurance and trained staff. Not only is your home safer, you are safer and you are protected from being sued if the uninsured trades-person injures themselves.
Seniors, persons with disabilities and others are at risk from fly-by-night operators who use slick sales talk peppered with fear, uncertainty and doubt. Shady operators target people who may be vulnerable. While it’s good to maintain a positive attitude, one also has to be cautious.
It can happen so easily as it did to me this week. I normally have regular tradespeople for all my outside work. After decades of home ownership I have a list of people to call. Due to age and disability, I am also unable to do any of those jobs on my own.
When a nice young man called at the door two days ago offering to clean the roof, my wife passed it on to me. Getting our signals crossed, I assumed she thought it was a good idea.
“You have a lot of snow on your roof,” said the man with a pick-up truck. “We can clean off all the snow tomorrow for you. We will also treat the edges to melt the ice and protect them from ice-damming. When we’re done, we will remove all the roof snow from your property. Would you like the ramp cleared as well?”
While I wasn’t overly concerned about the snow load – we’ve had worse – the price of $350 seemed about right and it would not hurt to get it done.
At supper time the next night, my wife thought they had forgotten. At 5:30 PM three men arrived and started, assuring me they were delayed but it would get done.
But 1 hour later the sun was gone and the dark of night was settling in. “We’re done,” said the man.
I wasn’t convinced. We had new snow piled high and right up against the house which was not quite “remove all the snow from your property.” I couldn’t tell if the edges had been treated for ice.
I suggested they come back in the morning for an inspection. When they returned in the morning they men refused to complete the work but demanded to be paid in full. After I paid for the work done, one of them threatened me physically if I didn’t pay more. He picked up my crutch to emphasize his intent.
While it’s not uncommon to have a disagreement over the work done by contractors, resorting to violence against a senior or person with disabilities is “a new low,” according to the police.
I only got rid of them by pushing the panic button on the alarm fob and telling them the police had been called. They left and the police arrived and took a complaint.
How many people in that situation would get off with only an upset?
I should have asked for his business card, ID or even his driver’s license. In the case of a problem, I had no information to go on.
My regular snow removal man agreed to remove some of the extra snow and the rest will have to wait for spring thaw.
Live and learn.
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By Stephen Pate, NJN Network