From Your Better Business Bureau of Northern Indiana
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Michael Coil, President/CEO
Marjorie Stephens, Communications Director
Toll-free (800) 552-4631 ~ (260) 423-4433
BBB has received several ALERTS today that we have combined. They are both consumer/business oriented
'Tis the Season for ...........Before You Close the Deal, Check
BBB suggests always getting more than one quote
[Fort Wayne, IN - May 27, 2010] - Better Business Bureau of Northern Indiana is asking consumers to be careful when signing a contract for work to be done. "The BBB suggests that you solicit two or three bids for any work you plan on contracting," said Michael Coil, President/CEO of BBB of Northern Indiana. "The lowest offer is not automatically the best deal. Make sure all bids are based on the same set of specifications and quality of materials to be used."
Coil also warns that, as with any contract, never sign a blank or partially blank contract. Get all verbal promises in writing. If the project is to be completed by a certain date, make sure it is on the contract as well. "You may want to inquire about inserting an arbitration clause into your contract in the case of any dispute between you and your contractor," he said.
Dave Fuller of the Allen County Building Department reminds homeowners that they need to make sure the contractor is in compliance with all local licensing, bonding, and that any necessary building permit is obtained. "Our licensed contractors carry a card. That licensing number should be verified by the consumer through the Allen County Building Department at 449-7131 before commencing any work or signing a contract," Fuller said.
Typically, a down payment of one-third of the total contract price is made with additional payments made after completion of each phase of work; final payment should not be made until work is completed and you have inspected the work. If the contractor arranges financing for the work to be done, be sure you understand all aspects of the financial terms, especially if a second mortgage of your home is used as security for the work.
Indy Air Care
Several consumers have called into BBB regarding a company called Indy Air Care, based out of Indianapolis. This company has been advertising a $49.95 coupon in local newspapers that includes duct cleaning for 12 vents, 1 return and 1 main, plus free system inspection. In one instance, after the duct cleaning was completed and the furnace was inspected, the Indy Air Care service person told the consumer they needed a new furnace and air conditioner and a quote was given for the furnace and AC installation. After the deal was signed and a down payment check was written, the consumer became suspicious and contacted Rolf Griffin Heating, Air Conditioning and Plumbing. When their service person got to the house, they reported that the air ducts were not cleaned properly and that the consumer did not need a new furnace or air conditioner. Luckily, Indiana requires a three-day right to rescind for any in-home work in which the contract is signed in the home of the consumer. When the customer called to cancel the installation, she was told there would be a restocking charge; something that is not legally enforceable under Indiana law. Just to be sure, the consumer also called her bank and stopped payment on her check. In addition, although no licensing was needed for the duct cleaning, licensing was needed for installation of a new furnace, which the Allen County Building Department confirmed Indy Air Care did not have.
Regardless of what type of contract work you need, BBB urges you to check out a company's report prior to signing a contract and getting more than one quote. Consumers can go to www.bbb.org to request a quote from a BBB Accredited Business. Pry before you buy or call BBB with any concerns or questions at 1.800.552.4631 or local at 423-4433.
Benefit for a daughter with cancer - Scam?
BBB received a call this morning from a business owner that a woman name Shelly Foretier (but, remember, this person could do a name change elsewhere) came into their store two weeks ago and claimed that she was having a benefit for her daughter who had cancer. She convinced the owner of the business to give her $40 in cash and she placed an order for some hot food items for the benefit to be picked up at a later date. She left a phone number and a street address. She didn't come back for the items on the date she gave them. When the business called, the person answering the phone number that she had given them claims they had no idea who she was. In addition, the people at the street address claimed they also had never heard of her.
BBB warns that, with the warm summer months, people could be selling or collecting money for a variety of reasons, from candy bars to magazines to bicycles they are trying to sell that may have been stolen, or even someone claiming your roof needs repaired, your trees need trimmed, or anything else they can think of. Instead, these so-called "contractors" take your check, tell you they are going out to purchase something for the job and never return. Be cautious and never let someone you don't know into your home. Buyers, Beware!
American Business Network in Phoenix, AZ.
This company has received 104 complaints in the past three years with the Better Business Bureau. Complaints range from Sales Practice issues to Contract Disputes to Advertising, etc. A big complaint that businesses have is receiving an invoice for ad page services, which they did not order. Company representatives will call and say that a said business signed up for the advertising and in order to cancel must pay the fee of $499.
Out of the 104 complaints the BBB received, 98 were resolved. What is of concern here are the businesses who do not call the Better Business Bureau to have the matter resolved. What if companies caught up in the business of the day forget and believe that they did order this service? How much money is possibly lost and unknowingly paid to this company? We cannot determine this.
If uncertain as to whether you ordered a service, request a signed copy of the agreement. If they tell you the contract is verbal, ask for specifics. Then, if still in doubt, refute it with the business and register a complaint with us by calling 260-423-4433/800-552-4631 or by lodging a complaint on our website at www.bbb.org. You should also contact the Attorney General at 800-382-5516. The Federal Trade Commission (877-382-4357) helps regulate business practices as well.
Annual Corporate Compliance Company
Have you received an invoice from Annual Corporate Compliance Company for an annual fee of $150? Perhaps dated June 1, 2010? It's starting to happen. Several businesses have reported receiving a deceptive letter that would appear to come from an official government source soliciting an annual fee of $125 or $150 and claims it will be used for record keeping and processing of a company's annual minutes. It gives the appearance of coming from a legitimate government agency and cites fictitious state law.
This letter is NOT an official correspondence from the Office of Indiana Secretary of State Business Services Division or any other Indiana state agency. Investigators from Todd Rokita's office are working with federal law enforcement to determine who is responsible for these letters and ensure they are stopped. If you received one of these solicitations, ignore it! If you have already responded to such a letter and believe you are a victim of this scam, please call the Business Services Division at (317) 232-6576.
Legitimate notices from the Office of the Indiana Secretary of State include the state seal of Indiana and Todd Rokita's name (Indiana Secretary of State).
Our thanks to an Accredited Business for letting us know.