As cleanup continues after the windstorm that shook much of the Greater Toronto Area on May 4, consumers should take steps to protect themselves when looking to hire contractors for repairs, says the Better Business Bureau.
“Consumers do need to be very careful when looking for repair work after storms,” says Emma Borski, a spokesperson for the BBB. “Some companies might have increased pricing, and suspicious or unlicensed contractors may also be coming out of the woodwork with seemingly great deals.”
Borski says that while complaints of companies gouging consumers after storms are rare, there are a number of ways that people can protect themselves. The Better Business Bureau has a few tips for Torontonians looking for help after the storm.
- Ask your insurer for help. Your insurance company may have a list of trusted contractors to turn to.
- Avoid door-to-door contractors. If someone comes to your door offering their repair or cleanup work, ask for identification and confirm they are properly licensed to provide the service.
- Comparison shop. Get at least three quotes before deciding on which contractor to book.
- Don’t be hasty. The BBB says it’s a red flag if a contractor offers an on-the-spot, take-it-or-leave it price for repairs. Don’t be pressured into working with a contractor you’re unsure about.
- Confirm damage yourself. If you’re working with a contractor you don’t know or trust, where practical, try to verify damage to your roof, attic, eaves or other hard-to-see locations yourself. BBB warns that unethical contractors may actually create damage to get work.
Once you’ve found a contractor you’re comfortable with, Borski advises that customers should get a detailed contract in writing, and to pay with a credit card. That way, if you have a problem with the contractor or the work, you can stop payment or dispute charges.
Since Friday, the city has received more than 2,500 storm-related calls to 311, that’s more than six times the calls for the same period the week before, when the weather was quiet. And the calls are still rolling in – the city has received about 400 on Monday alone.