Making a Disaster Worse

As many Oklahomans are aware, our yearly severe weather season has begun. This time of year brings rain, hail, lightening, and tornadoes. We join with all other Oklahomans in saying our hearts go out to the many individuals in Oklahoma who have recently been displaced by the large and damaging tornadoes early in the season.

Various weather anomalies are not the only things that are brought about by the beginning of spring. Shortly after the rain and storms stop, elaborate scams further injuring those already harmed by the storms begin to appear. A quick trip to the mall after a minor storm reveals a half dozen post cards under the windshield wiper advertising for storm damage repair or hail repair shops that promise to be quick and not take a dime more than your insurance will pay. More and more are offering to perform their services without you even paying an insurance deductible (it should be noted that such practices are in violation of the law). While some companies are of course legitimate, others may well not be. Advertising is of course a normal business practice that transcends all types of businesses. However, the old adage of caveat emptor, or buyer beware, becomes more important than ever when choosing a reputable company. Simply finding the lowest cost workman is not always the best idea. It is important to realize that in times of crisis, such as severe weather, people are in a vulnerable state and susceptible to clever scam artists. I hear horror stories regularly of people who gave money up-front to a company that was going to repair storm damage, only to find out the company never did any work and now can not be located.

When choosing a business that will be performing a service for you there are a few key bits of information that you should always seek out. Determine if the business is in fact a company that has been formed and filed with the State. Determine if the business has an actual address and phone number that does not include a cell phone and a trailer in a parking lot at a street intersection. Also, many reputable companies will include information about how long they have been in business. Additionally, the low tech word of mouth approach is another method of ensuring the person you are choosing to perform work is indeed reputable. Most importantly, we would highly recommend only hiring contractors that are insured and bonded.

Grady Conrad