Letters to the Editor: Installer Exposes Scam Tactics

© 2003 Door & Access Systems
Publish Date: Spring 2003
Page 42

Letters to the Editor

Installer Exposes Scam Tactics

Dear Editor,

Last year, after 11 years in the garage door business, I went to work for a garage door dealer here in Maryland, but after realizing it was a scam, I got out. I’ve since learned that it is a nationwide operation that has taken a toll on consumers, employees, franchise owners, and other companies.

This company goes by several different company names. They often use major manufacturers’ trademarks in the title of their companies. They have also taken the names of respected local dealers and altered their name slightly to take business away from these companies.

When I was sent out on service calls, I was told to replace everything. “Overhaul it,” my boss said. He actually told me to specifically take advantage of older customers, especially when an old lady is home alone. My boss also showed me how to damage drums and springs when on a service call.

When I resisted their tactics, I started getting sent out on emergency calls all hours of the day and night and not in my area, but two hours away.

During my last week, I was sent on another service call. When I got there, my office manager called me to confirm if the homeowner was “retarded.” I told her that he seemed “slow.” A little later, the man comes out with a check for $200. She had called him and charged him $200 for a button remote.

When I got back, I threatened to tell the customer. In retaliation, I was called Sunday night at midnight to replace some springs about an hour and a half away from my home. I refused. On Monday, some employees pulled up and told me they were instructed to take the truck and tell me I was fired. It was an ugly scene, and they physically threatened both my wife and me.

I then placed a report online at www.ripoffreport.com and filed complaints with the Better Business Bureau, the Wage and Hour Commission, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and my state’s Attorney General.

We then started getting many threatening phone calls. I can’t even tell you the total number of police reports we’ve made.

Unfortunately, we are not the only ones. They have done the same thing to people helping us, former employees, former franchise owners, and anyone who knows about their real operation.

This company is becoming a nationwide nuisance and needs to be stopped. They prey on the elderly and handicapped, and their prices are so much higher than any legitimate company. They tamper with your door and use scare tactics to get you to buy.

The public and the industry need to know the real story about these dealers.

Dale and April Connell
Waldorf, Md.

Dealer Fights Back

To the Editor:

I have spent the last 13 years running an honest door company in Southern California, and I have been frustrated with the unethical businesses surrounding me.

I am very pleased with your articles dealing with this issue. I would like to use the articles in your spring and summer 2002 editions in an advertising campaign with the purpose of educating my customers. Can we have permission to reprint the articles, making sure to state the source?

Mark Miller
Valencia Overhead Door
Santa Clarita, Calif.

Note: Wanting to help combat this industry problem, we gladly gave Mark permission to reprint our stories. Dealers who wish to reprint our stories are encouraged to contact us, as Mark did, before proceeding.

Ousting a Scoundrel: How They Did it in Denver

From the Editor:

We also received reports of unethical dealer activity in Denver, Seattle, Atlanta, San Diego, Jacksonville, Fla., and several other major cities. However, many dealers were not willing to be identified for fear of retaliation. It appears that the unethical activity can include thug-like abuse of competitors and former employees.

In Denver, we heard how one unethical dealer was actually ousted from that area in early 2003. The problem dealer was practicing the same tactics as reported elsewhere: giant Yellow Pages (YP) ads, false advertising claims such as "voted Denver's best door company," using different company names, misusing manufacturer logos, and racking up repair bills of more than $400 per ticket.

Here’s what Denver dealers did that may have contributed to the ousting of the unethical dealer.

  1. They complained to the YP rep about the false advertising. That eventually stopped some of the false claims. The YP rep even granted discounts to the reporting dealers.
  2. They called manufacturers and reported the unauthorized use of logos. Several suppliers then forced the unethical dealer to stop using the logos.
  3. They complained to the Better Business Bureau, but this was reportedly not that effective.
  4. They reported unethical activity to the Attorney General's office. This was more effective.

By Feb. 2003, one of the problem dealers reportedly packed up and left town. Could it work in your area?