As a licensed Dallas electrician, I see a lot of the work other electricians do. A lot of it is good, high-quality work similar to the work I and my employees do but not all of it is, unfortunately. Just like any other industry, there are plenty of bad deals and scam artists preying on customers looking for a good deal. The slow economy doesn’t get rid of these phony electricians either. If anything, it makes them come out of the woodwork as people try to save money by using less expensive services. So, how do you avoid electrician scams? Obviously, it can be really difficult to detect some scams, but here’s some important tips that can help:
- GET 3 ESTIMATES. I can’t stress enough how important this step is. If one of the estimates is much lower than the others, it may not be a great deal; it might be the first step to a scam. Like my grandfather always said, “If it’s too good to be true, it probably is.”
- Make sure you’re getting what you’re paying for. This is one of the most common types of scams; charging you for something you’re not getting. It’s not just the small, fly-by-night electricians who do this, either; even larger services can be crooked and try to scam you. For instance, I once serviced a customer who had an electrical service company install three dedicated circuits in his home, but was still having problems with them. Imagine his horror when we pulled the wiring and discovered they’d only installed one and charged him for three! This happens a lot in business electrical work, too: some companies know that businesses are often too busy to check their work right away, which leads to things like a company being charged for eight fluorescent ballasts when only three were installed. It’s ok to ask the electrician to show you the work he did once he’s finished, and don’t be afraid to ask questions when he presents his bill to you. Which brings up another great way to avoid electrician scams:
- Watch the electrician while he works. A reputable, honest electrician doesn’t mind you watching him work; in fact, it gives them an opportunity to show you how your system is functioning, and to explain any problems that might be developing with your home or business before they get worse. If an electrician won’t let you watch him work on your home, he’s probably either unsure of his skill or planning to scam you. Either way, find another electrician.
- Check the license of the electrician when he arrives. All electricians in the state of Texas are required to keep their state license on them when working and to present it to a customer upon request. You should always do this when the electrician arrives; a reputable electrician will not take this personally and will happily show you what you need to see. If the electrician at your door refuses to show you his license or makes excuses to avoid doing so, close the door on him and call for another electrician. Trust me: this will pay off in the long run.
- Don’t get desperate. Sometimes there are legitimate electrical emergencies in your home or business, but that doesn’t mean you should make your decision in a panic mode. Desperation is the lifeblood of scam artists; they survive because people don’t always have time to make the proper decision, and in their rush to get things done make a poor choice of electrician. How do you get around this? No matter how bad things are, it is ALWAYS best to use a reputable, established contractor to fulfill your needs. You should always take the time to do research and pick a good, honest electrician. This is especially true if it’s not an emergency; if you don’t absolutely need the service right away, waiting an additional day or two for a quality electrician isn’t going to affect you very much. I mean, you’re living without whatever he’s going to install right now, right?
- Keep your head. Some electricians try to plow through you, confusing you with technical terminology and making you think they’re better than they are, when all they’re really good at is talking. Don’t be afraid to slow the electrician down as he explains it to you and ask questions. Make him explain it to you in a way you can understand; if he can’t, maybe he doesn’t know what he was doing!
Above all, remember that taking risks with your electrical work isn’t a good thing. You wouldn’t tell your friend or boss to use a shifty electrician. So why put your own loved ones through it. Don’t use a service company you wouldn’t recommend to others?
For more information and other tips Electric Man to the rescue. We’re available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, so don’t ever hesitate to give us a call! Visit our website to learn more or connect with our online community on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Google Plus.More