The state Department of Consumer Protection offers these tips on home-improvement coupons found increasingly on social-media outlets like Groupon, LivingSocial and Facebook.
1. Ignore urgent, hard-sell, time limited offers. Take the time to know who you’re dealing with.
2. Deal with well-known companies as much as you can. If you’re trying out a company you are unfamiliar with, confirm that the company has a physical address and phone number.
3. Even on coupon offers, get to know the contractor before you hire him or her. Ask for references from former customers and contact them.
4. Know what you’re buying. Read the seller’s description of the product and the fine print.
5. Confirm that the contractor is registered in Connecticut. Go to https://www.elicense.ct.gov/ or call 1-800-842-2649.
6. Get more than one estimate for the job; don’t assume that an extremely low bid is a bargain.
7. Carefully read and print the terms and conditions. Also print other records of your online transactions, including all emails to and from the seller.
8. Pay by credit card if possible, to protect you if something goes wrong. Under federal law, you can dispute charges under certain circumstances and withhold payment temporarily while the creditor is investigating. Using cash, debit card, personal check, cashier’s check, or money orders do not offer the same protection, so use them only if you really know and trust the contractor.
9. Make sure you understand your contract. If anything is unclear, ask for advice or do some further research.
10. Home improvement contracts must include a 3-day Notice of Cancellation that allows consumers 72 hours to change their mind. It must also include clear instructions on how a consumer is to cancel the contract, along with a valid phone number, fax number and mailing address.
11. Check with your local building department to verify if permits are required for the work being proposed and done. A building permit ensures that the work performed is done to code and is safe.
12. Make sure the contractor carries liability and worker’s compensation insurance for any damages caused by the contractor or their subcontractors to your property or neighbors’ properties.
- -- ADVERTISEMENT --
- -- ADVERTISEMENT --