There are a lot of things that can go wrong in our daily lives, and unfortunately, some of those things are the result of fraudulent business practices. Identity theft, data breaches, property damage and other issues are unfortunately all too common these days.
Most fraud plays on the vulnerabilities of consumers, with the goal of stealing money or information. No one wants to fall victim to one of these scams, but they happen every day – so it’s important to be aware of what they are.
The garage door industry is no exception to this issue. While there are many reliable and reputable garage door companies – there are also a lot of scams or potentially shady business practices, and it’s important to be vigilant and stay informed.
How to Avoid Garage Door Repair Scams?
Among the companies that aren’t respectable, there are a surprising number of tricks they can use to separate you from your hard-earned money. Projects can balloon in cost and time for unknown reasons, prices can skyrocket or change at the last minute and technicians and inexperienced workers can get involved, causing damage or providing shoddy work.
At Banko Overhead Doors, we’ve heard more than a few horror stories from customers who have been taken advantage of by less than scrupulous companies. We’ll go over a few common garage door repair scams you should know about, and help you get the information and knowledge you need to fend off would-be scammers and con-artists.
1. The Rebuild Package Scam
The rebuild package scam, also known as the “hardware overhaul,” is when a garage door repair company comes to look at your garage door and tells you, in effect, that you need to replace everything. Even if you aren’t looking for a whole new garage door, they will tell you that you need new torsion springs, all new rollers, new cables and new bearing brackets.
If that were the end of the problem, things actually wouldn’t be so bad. You could pay the price they set, get your garage door and home repaired, and be done with it.
But these unscrupulous technicians mark up the cost and hide it in their installation charges, and you end up paying hundreds — or in some cases, thousands — more. Some companies are instructed to tell every customer who calls for a quote that their torsion springs are broken or worn out, regardless of how much life they have left in them. Certain technicians will even try to convince customers that all hardware on a five- or six-year-old door needs to be replaced, even though with proper maintenance and standard usage, these parts can last 10 to 15 years or more.
Did you know, for instance, that many garage door companies sell “lifetime springs” for garage door systems? Things get confusing when you try to define what “lifetime” actually means, though. Springs have varying lifecycle ratings from 15,000 up to 50,000 or more. But that cycle and how long it takes to deplete the spring depends on how often you use your door. If you don’t use your door as much, your springs could last years longer than anyone else’s. The same is true if you purchase a used or pre-owned home. But since you probably don’t know for sure how often the previous owners used the door, scammers can take advantage of it.
Even if a spring has really broken, don’t be fooled into buying all new hardware. Torsion springs work harder than any other part of your garage door, so it’s likely they will wear out first, and it would be unusual for all the parts of your garage door to wear out at the same time. Just like when an automobile dies, usually one or two parts are to blame. You don’t necessarily have to replace the entire engine or ignition system to get it operational again.
If for some reason, all the parts on your door have worn out, you may actually save money and be better off installing a whole new door. Of course, that is only true of reputable garage door professionals. Reliable companies can often replace and install new equipment for the same cost – if not less – than those repairing old equipment at ballooned scam prices.
2. The Lifetime Guarantee Scam
A lifetime guarantee sounds great, but be careful. If the guarantee only covers parts, and not labor, you may be taken for quite the ride – especially when it comes time for maintenance or repairs.
Most people assume that a lifetime guarantee or warranty policy means that everything they need will be replaced at no charge at all. With trustworthy brands, this is a guarantee that the parts and equipment will last even under extreme circumstances. But scammers and con-artists can use this assumption to take advantage of you.
It’s all in the part that is being used to replace current or broken equipment. The trick is that the technician will install a cheap, unreliable part with a lifetime guarantee. As you’d expect, it breaks down sooner than a more reliable part, and naturally, you’ll request help. The company will return, replace it with another cheap part, and charge you exorbitant labor costs. The part itself is free, but the labor is not. Worse yet, since they replaced with yet another cheap part, you’re going to have to request help again soon.
Be sure to check what is covered under any guarantees that are offered when you receive your estimate. There can be a huge disconnect between what they tell you they offer and what’s included in your service agreement or contract. If they tell you something is covered, but it’s not mentioned in the contract, they are not obligated to fulfill that promise. This overtly unethical, but legally there’s no recourse available.
Be sure to protect yourself and your home anytime you enlist outside help, including with garage door repair professionals. Furthermore, always review any and all signed documents to ensure that you know exactly what you’re agreeing to.
3. The Unidentified Technician Scam
Some disreputable companies will advertise their services as if their in-house technicians or workers will be handling the duties. Then, they subcontract the job to an independent contractor with no license, history or way to get in touch if something goes wrong.
It’s common practice in the development and construction industries to hire third-party workers. When you hire someone to build a pool, for example, they use sub-contractors to divvy up the work. One party brings in the heavy machinery to dig the hole, another lays out the foundation and supports and a final party does the finish-work. They just don’t always break this down for you, the consumer.
The same is true with some garage door companies. They may share duties with other parties, especially when it comes to working on projects that require experience. One contractor or professional may know about the springs, while another knows more about replacing the actual door. Whatever the case, this is something that scammers can also use to their advantage.
You hire one company, then they divvy the work out to someone else, without asking your permission – or giving any additional information – then walk away with all the money.
If a van shows up without any identifying markings or the name, logo or contact info of the company you hired, investigate further. Always ask professionals working on your home to introduce themselves before they begin working, and don’t assume that they are directly employed by the repair company.
That’s not to say you need to be paranoid every time the repair team shows up at your house. Just make sure that you do the necessary homework before hiring a company and allowing people into your home. Remember, your garage door is an entry point to your home, so you should treat it just as you would the rest of your house. You wouldn’t allow just anyone access to your front door lock, and you should treat your garage door the same way.
Another great way to protect your home and assets is to check credentials before hiring or working with a company. You wouldn’t hire a personal driver who has a long record of DUI and felonies, and you shouldn’t hire a garage door repair technician that doesn’t have the necessary certifications and credentials or has a poor history with past customers.
Always ask to see proof of a company’s license documents, and do your homework before hiring someone to find reviews and information on their history with customers. In most cases, you won’t have to look far to find company or service reviews, especially with the number of popular review sites online.
The Dangers of Cheap Garage Door Repairs
Even with all those scams in mind, there is another problem that happens often in our industry. In fact, you could argue that it’s a problem in almost every industry.
Not all garage door parts and hardware are created equal, just like not all professionals and technicians have equal skills. There are a variety of specifications and factors that go into repairing existing equipment, replacing it and choosing new gear.
For example, did you know it’s possible to install a garage door opener that does not support the full weight of the door you have installed? Garage doors are made of different materials like steel and wood. Naturally, some of those materials are heavier than others. If you end up with a garage door opener that isn’t suited for the weight of the door, you could end up with a damaged door and springs fairly quickly.
If you hire a party or professional that offers extremely cheap services and they replace high-quality parts with cheaper parts, you have the potential to run into a lot of problems later down the line. Not only does this open up you and your home to the lifetime guarantee scam we discussed above, it also damages additional equipment faster. This leads to more repairs and maintenance in the future, and more money spent on those repairs.
While most consumers know to be wary of the most expensive offers, it’s important to be aware of the risks of taking the cheapest offers, too. When you get multiple quotes, the outliers are usually where the issues lie. There are exceptions, of course, and in the end, you’ll need to use your best judgment. That said, a cheap garage door repair may seem like a budget-friendly choice, but can have a severe impact on your finances in the future.
How to Protect Yourself Against Garage Door Repair Scams
The best way to protect yourself against a garage door repair scam is to go with a garage door repair company you know you can trust. At Banko Overhead Doors, we make it our mission to be upfront about costs to ensure that there are no surprises for our customers.
Our technicians are fully licensed and insured, and we are proud of our many customer testimonials. Ask us for proof of our past work, and we’re happy to provide it – and any other company you’re considering hiring for your garage door repairs should, too.
We offer free and accurate estimates, in which your technician will tell you exactly what they want to do, why, and how much it will cost so you can make a fully informed decision. When it comes to garage door repair, we know your time is valuable so we offer 24/7 same day garage door repair service.
For safe, reliable and honest garage door repair and service in Tampa Bay, Sarasota and the surrounding areas, contact Banko Overhead Doors today.