The electrical industry is known for its lack of integrity and ethics. Things like contractors who make promises they don’t keep, take advance payments and never show up again, start the job then disappear, or don’t finish the job within a reasonable time period all give the honest electricians a bad reputation. So how do you protect yourself from becoming a scammer’s victim?
Your first line of protection is to make sure the contractor’s company is legitimate and reputable. Even if the salesman’s presentation looks polished and his truck looks new, there could still be problems brewing! Remember this basic rule: never judge an electrician by his appearance alone! Insist that the following documentation be provided before the job starts – and before you give him any money.
1. Current Electrical License (where applicable): Make sure they have been operating under the same name for a minimum of 5 years. Many electrical companies pop up when storms hit… but an astounding 48% of them go out of business in theirfirst year. What’s more, many of those that went out of business will open up the following year under a different name to avoid the past customer complaints and problems.
2. Current References: All reputable electricians carry pre-printed lists of references…. that includes customers from 1 to 5 years ago, as well as customers from the previous month. Also, ask for suppliers and business references. In addition, an electrician should be able to supply, on demand, a comprehensive list of ALL clients served for at least the last 5 years. A three year list of clients should contain at least 1,500 job references.
3. Trade Association Certificates of Standing: Belonging to trade associations implies some quality and ethical integrity on the part of the contractor.
4. There’s Only 2 Circumstances Where You Should Give Cash Up Front….AndOnly 2: Reputable electrical contractors won’t need cash up front for 99% of all jobs they do. The only circumstances that would make it necessary is if you special order non-returnable electrical materials, or if insurance does not cover your repairs and you have poor credit. Be careful of contractors who ask for money up front. This is the number one area of fraud among contractors.
5. Written Bid With L-2 to L-3 Specifications: Many people are unaware that there are varying levels of job bid specifications. Most contractors provide a L-0 (No written bid) or an L-1 (Basic receipt or invoice). The minimum you should accept is an L-2 bid, which details the type and amount of materials to be used. Even better than that is an L-3 bid which lists estimated time to be spent on the job, and details the type and amount of materials to be used. Always make sure the bid has the contractor’s signature on it.
At Electrical Detectives, we provide all of these to our customers. We want to be sure you are always keeping an eye out for any con situation. An electrical emergency is stressful enough, adding a scammer into the situation only makes it worse. Don’t ever question your electrician’s legitimacy, call Electrical Detectives today and get Southern Illinois’s #1 electrical service!