Spring is here, and it’s that time of year when you might get an unexpected knock on your door – especially if you have an older or unpaved parking lot or driveway. Better Business Bureau® of Minnesota and North Dakota (BBB) warns consumers and business owners that suspect asphalt firms will be here soon, trying to rustle up jobs. These operators often go door-to-door claiming they have extra asphalt from a nearby project and they’ll work at a discounted rate. However, the quality of the work is often sub-par and the final bill can sometimes be double – or even many times – the original quoted price.
“This is a seasonal scheme, and it’s one that victimizes many people in our area every year,” said Susan Adams Loyd, President and CEO of BBB of Minnesota and North Dakota. “It’s often perpetrated door-to-door, so people really need to be prepared as to how they will approach the issue.”
To avoid asphalt schemes, always be sure you know who you’re dealing with. Research the company at bbb.org and check other online resources. Also, be sure to ask the salesperson if they have or need to have a solicitor’s license from the city they’re doing business in – and then verify that by contacting your city officials directly.
Be on the lookout for these common signs of a suspect asphalt firm:
- The claim the company has leftover asphalt from another job. Be wary of paving companies stating they are “in the neighborhood” and have extra asphalt at the ready to repair your driveway for a minimal cost. Professional asphalt contractors know, with great accuracy, how much paving material is needed to complete a project. They will rarely have leftover materials.
- High pressure sales. Never hire someone on the spot. Trustworthy contractors provide a written estimate that will be valid for many days afterwards, or much longer. If you feel that you are being subjected to high-pressure sales tactics, BBB advises you to end the conversation and tell the company you’re not interested.
- Deals that seem too good to be true. If the quoted price seems very low, chances are the quality of work will also be quite low.
- No contract is offered. Insist on a written contract specifying in detail the work to be performed and the agreed total price, not just price per square foot. Then get at least two more estimates before hiring a contractor.
- Cash-only sales. Most reputable contractors take checks or credit cards and don’t require cash-only terms. You also want to be sure to write checks out to the company and not individual employees.
- Unmarked trucks. Less than reputable firms often travel in unmarked trucks or ones that have out-of-state license plates. Some research usually reveals that they have no permanent address and phone numbers they give out are not answered.
If asphalt contractors are on your property and you feel work that’s being performed is beyond the scope of what was originally agreed upon, contact the police immediately. Or if you’re suddenly presented with a bill much higher than what was originally discussed, don’t be pressured into making a payment on the spot. Remember, you have rights. Always make sure you have full and accurate contact information for any company you work with – not just a phone number.
Consumers are often safer dealing with a contractor who has local roots. Contact BBB for free Business Profiles on any company you are considering doing business with by visiting bbb.org, or by calling – toll-free in Minnesota and North Dakota – 1-800-646-6222.
The mission of Better Business Bureau is to be the leader in building marketplace trust by promoting, through self-regulation, the highest standards of business ethics and conduct, and to instill confidence in responsible businesses through programs of education and action that inform, assist and protect the general public. We are open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Contact BBB at bbb.org or 651-699-1111, toll-free at 1-800-646-6222.