Spotting An Electrical Scam
Don’t Let Yourself Be Taken Advantage Of!
It is easy for us at Swartz Electric to sit here and tell you the reasons why you should trust us, and why you should use us – but how do you know these things matter? We don’t want you to fall for the dangerous signs of someone who is just out to take advantage of you – and get stuck working with someone who isn’t ethical, legal. above board – or will disappear at the first sign of trouble. Be on the lookout for:
Warning Sign #1: The Incredible, Amazingly Overpriced Electrician
Let’s be honest – smart consumers get prices from more than one service provider. While the least expensive option can feel the most attractive, we know the cheapest option is not always the best one. On the opposite end of this spectrum, the most expensive electrician isn’t always a guarantee of the best service, warranty, or anything else for that matter. Often, when a service provider comes to you with price that is five to ten times as much as another contractor, they will talk about things like ‘all-inclusive service’, ‘industry warranty’, or other promises. A lot of these can be hollow, especially if this is some fly-by-night operation which promises nationwide service, or a contractor that ends up disappearing just when you need them most . What they are trying to ‘sell’ you on is paying for the privilege of using their company – with no other tangible value for the money spent. Any electrician worth his license will offer you a warranty – in our case, it is a lifetime workmanship warranty, and two years of protection on the materials we use – but we would never think about telling customers to pay more just so we can guarantee the work we do.
Warning Sign #2: The Bargain-Of-The-Day Electrician
To be honest, low prices in and of themselves are not an indication of poor service, materials, or workmanship -but if someone approached you on the street and said he was having a ‘special deal’ on some name brand watches for ‘today only’, you would definitely be skeptical, if not completely disbelieving. In the same vein, if an electrician offers you an estimate and promises, ‘sign here today and not only will we get the work done lickety-split, but we’ll also give you our special discount,’ then you should be especially concerned. Trying to urge you into making a decision you may not be ready for yet in the hopes of getting fast cash can be an indication of less than savory business practices. Is it possible they are a self-employed businessman just looking to close a deal so they can write payroll checks this week? Of course, but it is also possible they are more interested in the liquid injection of your money and not in doing exceptional work backed up by superb customer service. When it comes to home improvement projects, decisions should be made slowly, thoughtfully, and carefully. You should never feel rushed, pressured, obligated, or ‘brow-beaten’ into agreeing to something you aren’t comfortable with, simply because someone attaches a dollar sign or a discount to it, ‘for today, and today only!’.
Warning Sign #3: The Electrifying, Fast-Talking Electrician
There is nothing wrong with having a thorough, detailed estimate with your service technician – and it would definitely be smart for you to spend as much time as you possibly can, getting every question you have answered and every option explored. Having a service person spend time explaining the work they are going to do in simple, laymen terms you can understand is even better! But when the stranger in your house starts talking a million miles a minute, using words or terms you aren’t familiar with (whether intentionally or not), things can quickly get uncomfortable. In a trade like electrical service, where there is a lot of trade-specific lingo, equipment and special materials, it is very easy to become overwhelmed when the fancy words start flying. (Trust me, if there is one thing an office full of electricians can do, it is quickly make my head hurt with their fancy jargon.) As a consumer, it could be equally easy to feel overwhelmed and intimidated by someone in your home doing the same thing. Don’t let a motor mouth of a technician railroad you into signing a contract you don’t understand, or agree to work that doesn’t make sense to you. Protecting your home means making good decisions for you, the house, and your bank account.
Warning Sign #4: The ‘Cowboy’
While it does sound like a good thing to have a ‘cowboy’ on your side, the reality is that a cowboy is the lone-wolf, shoot first ask questions later, ‘don’t worry, little lady’ kind of service tech. The danger in using this kind of a contractor – instead of a licensed electrician with references, insurance, and a reputation – is that odds are pretty high he is uninsured, unlicensed, and unregulated. He might offer you some ‘specially discounted materials’, super-fast work, and raise the cost every time he encounters something he is unprepared for (or have to return time after time, and charge you for each trip). He’ll tell you lots of good stories, take your cash, and leave you with some sub-par work that won’t stand up to an inspection or professional scrutiny. Remember that in the service industry, reputation – referrals, testimonials, and reviews – should be the first measure of ability, not the company representative’s ability to sell himself or his services.
Warning Sign #5: A Series of Unfortunate Events
Electrical estimating is one of those things that is not a perfect science – primarily because something like 99.99% of the circumstances field technicians encounter are hidden behind things like walls, tile, studs, etc. This means that while we try to predict or anticipate as much as we can, it is still entirely possible that there are existing problems, complications, or dangers the estimator is unaware of – or that will cause challenges with local building or regulating authorities. While we never like encountering project problems like this we are transparent with customers when they do, and work as quickly and affordably as possible to resolve them. On the other hand, if you are working with a contractor who seems to be having these kinds of problems frequently then consider it a red flag – especially if that ‘super affordable’ project you had budgeted for becomes a series of ‘unfortunate events’, inflating its cost far beyond your worst nightmares. The sad truth is that it’s entirely possible your contractor intentionally under-estimated your job in order to get your signature on a contract, and is now going to bury you under pile of expensive change-orders.
Warning Sign #6: The Dreaded Rewire
Home electrical standards have changed by leaps and bounds in just the past thirty years – not to mention over the 125+ years that Colorado Springs has had electricity. We frequently receive phone calls from highly concerned customers who have been told their homes are wired with knob and tube or aluminum wiring. While not ideal, these wiring situations also are not a reason for any contractor – or realtor, inspector, or anyone else – to demand the homeowners rewire their entire home. If an electrician comes into your home and tries to sell you on needing extensive, expensive electrical work like a rewire then get a second opinion – and a third, and maybe even a fourth. The tactic here is to use a sense of desperate urgency and high pressure to create panic in a homeowner. The electrician can then get a customer to sign off on almost anything, including exorbitantly expensive amounts of work – such as replacing all outlets, switches, fixtures, wires, and breakers – that will create inordinate amounts of damage – like holes every 4″ in your wall – and still look like a hero after presenting a monumental bill.
Don’t ever let a service contractor, electrical or otherwise, pull the wool over your eyes as a homeowner! Do your research, gather multiple estimates and professional opinions, and make an informed and educated decision on your own. And above all else, make sure that you use a licensed, insured contractor who is regulated by your local regional building authority, will pull the correct permits, stay on top of the process, make sure that your projects pass all inspections, and are completely legal and compliant.
Swartz Electric – Your Colorado Springs Electrician performs electrical work throughout Colorado Springs, Monument, Black Forest, Fountain, Falcon, Woodland Park, and everywhere in between. We are the electricians in Colorado Springs to solve your electrical problems and meet your electrical requirements.
Call, e-mail, visit our website, or stop by our office today, and allow Swartz Electric to serve YOU.
This is an original article written by Mai Bjorklund for Swartz Electric. This article may not be copied whole or in part without the express permission of Swartz Electric, LLC.
© Copyright 2015. All rights reserved.