8 TIPS TO AVOID DISASTER SCAMMERS
Some of the only fences left standing after Hurricane Harvey hit the Coastal Bend in August 2017 displayed very helpful signs — signs with the name and phone number for D&C Fence Co. in Corpus Christi. General Manager Rich Hanner said the company got a lot of phone calls after the storm.
“People were sending us pictures of the fences that didn’t get blown over by the hurricane,” Hanner said. “They were our fences.”
The durability of D&C’s fences wasn’t lost on Coastal Bend customers, which included homes and businesses in Rockport, Fulton, and Port Aransas. The company services a 100-mile radius from Corpus Christi, much of which bore the brunt of the Category 4 hurricane two years ago.
The chaotic aftermath of customers old and new needing to repair, rebuild, or install new fencing led Hanner and his crew to plan for the next big storm. The company put together a list of tips for how to avoid scammers. The goal is to educate their clients about some out-of-town contractors who show up in disaster areas to make a quick buck.
D&C FENCE COMPANY’S 8 TIPS TO AVOID DISASTER SCAMMERS
1. Look for a company with a local, verifiable address — one that will be there after the storm is over.
2. Never pay more than a 50 percent deposit. Reputable companies will never ask for more than that.
3. Make sure the company is insured. No reputable company operates without a valid General Liability policy.
4. If you have any questions about the reputation of the company, look for reviews or references.
5. Fence companies regularly install signs on their fences. This is both advertisement and a statement of pride in workmanship. If you can’t locate any signs around your town, chances are, they aren’t a local company.
6. Be wary of any fence company that shows up unsolicited with a load of materials and ready to go to work. Any reputable local fence company is extremely busy after a storm and won’t likely have the time to do this. This is definitely a “buyer beware” situation.
7. The best way to build a fence is far from the least expensive way to build a fence. When you see large gaps between fence prices, be sure to ask questions and find out why. There might be major differences in the materials and methods used to build these fences.
8. Make sure any bids you receive are provided in writing, including a description of the work to be performed, materials specifications, warranty, and terms of payment. When your project is complete, any reputable fence company will provide you with a receipt. Do not accept verbal bids or warranties!
The demand for contractors after Harvey threatened to overwhelm many local contractors, which is why D&C Fence studied its own response and set up a better plan for next time. Keeping up a storm watch mentality is all part of that plan, too.
“When you live on the coast and you see something in the Gulf, you always stop and look at what it’s going to do,” Hanner said. “We’ve already had our conversations internally about what we are going to do for the next one. From a business standpoint, we’re ready to go.”
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