A Guide for Consumers: 10 Warning Signs

© 2005 Door & Access Systems
Publish Date: Winter 2005
Author: Tom Wadsworth
Page 54

A Guide for Consumers:
10 Warning Signs

By Tom Wadsworth, Editor

A few disreputable garage door dealers are giving a bad name to respectable dealers everywhere. These bad eggs entice unsuspecting consumers with large Yellow Pages ads that give the appearance of credibility. Then, once in your garage, they rack up service bills of several hundred dollars’ worth of unnecessary repairs.

How can consumers know when they are looking at the ad of a disreputable dealer? Over the last several years, we’ve detected distinct patterns of behavior among these dealers. Before you invite an unknown door dealer into your garage, use this quick 10-point checklist.

Note: Most of the items in this checklist are legal in and of themselves. However, if several are used together, there is a greater likelihood that you may be dealing with someone who is trying to deceive the public.

No Advertised Street Address … on the Yellow Pages ad(s) or anywhere on the Web site(s). This isn’t a mail order business; it’s a service business. If it’s large enough to afford a giant Yellow Pages ad, why can’t it provide its street address?

Garage Door Service.” Listen carefully to how the phone is answered. Many of these dealers operate under so many business names/aliases, they must answer the phone with a generic phrase like, “Garage door service.” If they answer this way, ask, “What is the legal name of your business, and what is your street address?” If they can’t easily answer the question, hang up immediately and call a dealer who knows his own name and knows where he is.

Digital Trickery
. Does the Yellow Pages ad contain a truck or a row of trucks with a business name that appears to be digitally superimposed on the side? This dealer may not actually own the trucks. When the dealer drives up to your house, see if the truck’s logo actually matches the one in the ad. If not, you may have a scam artist at your door.

Unclear Business Name
. Look closely at the ad(s). Is the specific name of the business clearly identified? Does it appear that the dealer actually operates under several names? If a Web address is listed, does the name on the Web site match the name on the ad? Why can’t the dealer simply identify its business name?

Under Same Ownership.” This confusing statement, often found in small print at the bottom of a full-page ad in the Yellow Pages, is often legally required to prevent a business from deceiving the public. But ask yourself: Why is this business being forced to avoid the appearance of deception? What is it hiding?

Giant Ads
. Full-page ads in the Yellow Pages are very expensive for a community business. It must make a lot of money in your area to pay for these ads. Does it make that money by grossly overcharging for unnecessary parts and services?

Discounts Galore
. Consumers are often attracted to ads that offer lots of discounts, e.g., for Senior Citizens, Military, AAA, AARP, etc. But which is better: paying full price for a $110 repair, or getting a 10 percent discount off a $600 bill for the same repair?

Lowest Prices.” Unwary consumers are likewise attracted to this statement on ads. If you truly want the “lowest price,” bring a verified price from a competitor and see if the dealer will beat it. If this dealer truly charges the “guaranteed lowest prices,” how can it possibly afford this giant ad?

Service Within an Hour.” Problem dealers typically focus on service work. Why? They know they can charge a gullible consumer $20 for a track roller that cost them less than a dollar. And they want to be the first one in your garage to do so. Fast service is great, but at what price?

Rated #1 in Customer Service.” If you call a dealer that boasts this rating, ask the dealer to substantiate this claim. If the dealer can’t do it, call someone else.

How many did you check?
1-3 This dealer could be okay.
4-6 Think twice before calling this dealer.
7-10 Proceed at your own risk.