It happens all too often in Springfield, Mo – building and remodel contractors taking advantage of the elderly in our fair city. Is it fair? No. Is it legal, ethical or moral? Nope! And yet, it happens all the time.
First and foremost, charging a high premium for contracting work doesn’t necessarily make a contractor or remodeler a bad person – just as there are luxury clothing stores in Springfield, Mo and discount clothing shops, there are different brands and different qualities of work each that come with a different price tag.
The worst part is that while many contractors take advantage of others, many of these people are elderly. I don’t know about you, but this is absolutely unacceptable. So, for those reading this article, if you know someone elderly or are taking care, be sure you help them should they need a remodeling contractor.
Ways Contractors Take Advantage of the Elderly in Springfield, Mo.
- Gimmicks which ensure you’ll hire them even if you are already unhappy with them. A “now we HAVE to use them” approach.
Many “discount” or “cheap” remodeling companies in SW Missouri have a habit of undercharging labor and overcharging on materials…this is so you HAVE to use them to install the product instead of another company. We’ve seen it before and we will see it again – a customer is unhappy with the contractors of one of these stores, so when he or she calls another installation company and gets their installation price, it looks to be WAY more expensive than the store he or she already bought the materials from. This gives the illusion that other flooring companies in SW Missouri are trying to pull a fast one on them when in reality, the “discount” or “cheap” flooring stores are messing with the prices so you have no choice but to go with them as your contractor.
Note: this happens all the time!
- They try to sell you something you don’t need.
How many times have you heard a funny sound in your car and took it to the mechanic without finding out where the noise is originating from? The same thing can happen to an elderly person. They know there is a leak in their HVAC unit, and when they call a specialist over, the “specialist” tells them they need a whole new unit instead of a simple bolt or screw. Often times, contractors receive commissions for products they sell – so why settle when they KNOW an elderly client doesn’t know the difference between their HVAC unit needing a new bolt or a new system altogether?
- Contractors don’t give you a written quotation.
We have seen this before and it really grinds our gears.
We know this, and MANY people know this, but all too often it happens that a quotation is not written down, so an elderly person has no idea what they are paying for. Not too long ago, a friend of mine who owns a reputable flooring store in Springfield, MO received a call from a lady who had been given a quotation over the phone, but it was not written down. He went out of his way to receive the written quotation for her, and when he saw it, it was a situation similar to the first example. They overcharged materials and undercharged labor. His guess was they wrote it up on the spot (maybe that’s why it took us a couple of days to receive the quote in the first place).
Our suggestion is to always get a written quote – or three! And do your research – look up reviews of whoever you have received your quote from so you know what you are getting yourself into!
- Bribes and threats.
Fear is an icky emotion – and it feels even worse when you have a job half-finished and your contractor is threatening to pull the plug on the project unless you pay him the rest of the amount. If your contractor has given you a quotation, there are chances unseen issues could arise (you can see it sometimes in Fixer Upper). Before a job begins, however, a pay schedule is usually discussed and agreed upon. Don’t be duped into paying early – they may just leave you high and dry!
All things considered, our recommendation is the following:
- Get at least three WRITTEN quotations.
- Look for online google and/or FB reviews, person-to-person referrals (ask your friends and family if they know anyone) and ratings from the BBB.
- Once you agree to a pay schedule, stick to it or modify it if other issues arise.
My philosophy is simple: if you do it right the first time, you won’t have to go back and do it again. And yes, mistakes do happen with everyone, including contractors. Just be sure to tap into your gut instinct before signing any kind of contract with a contractor.