It's always a good idea to perform as much research as possible before you hire a contractor. A thorough search can reveal pertinent information about him, including whether any complaints have been filed against him by former customers. This kind of information can help you decide whether to hire him or search for a different contractor. In most cases, the information is available to the public. You can gain access to it, at no charge, through various resources.
Better Business Bureau
The Better Business Bureau lists complaints and disagreements between businesses and customers. It typically handles complaints that concern advertising or sales, billing or collection, problems with products or services, delivery and guarantee or warranty. It does not handle workplace disputes, claims involving discrimination, matters that are or have been litigated, or complaints about the quality of legal or health services. Search the website of your local BBB for the contractor in question, either by name, website address, email or phone number. The organization provides details of any complaints filed and the number of complaints filed in the last three years.
State Attorney Consumer Protection
Your state attorney general's consumer protection department might have received complaints or mediated a case against your contractor. This information might not be on the website, but you could call the office, send an email or visit to make an inquiry. Note that a mediated complaint does not automatically mean the contractor is at fault.
A search through court records might reveal any past or current cases against your contractor. Contact the clerk of court in your jurisdiction and complete a form to request a search. If your local courts have made their records accessible online, you can conduct the search yourself at your convenience. You would need identifying information for the contractor, such as his name, the business name and its license number.
There are other ways of obtaining information about the contractor. For instance, a search of local media or consumer sites might reveal information about the contractor, including reviews -- and complaints -- from former customers, or articles that put the contractor in a negative light. You can also talk to people you know who have hired the contractor in the past, or ask the contractor for references and contact them for assessments of his work. Another option is to search for the contractor on social media websites. If the business has a page, reading the customer comments will give you an idea of the quality of his service.
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