Post Content

SteveStarting this month, Steven J. Zuilkowski will be writing blog posts here explaining various topics relating to the rights and legal obligations of home improvement contractors under General Laws chapter 142A, the Massachusetts Home Improvement Contractor Law.

 

This past November, I staffed the Office of Consumer Affairs’ booth at the Architecture Boston Expo (ABX), where we distributed brochures on the basic rules for home improvement contractors.  The trade show was well attended by contractors and I answered many of their questions.  As I helped each contractor, I handed them my business card and invited them to send me an e-mail if they had more questions.  Sometimes this exchange was awkward because some contractors reflexively reached for their business cards, but then hesitated and decided not to give one to me.  This can only mean one thing: after a quick refresher on the rules, they realized their business card did not contain their HIC registration numbers.

Under the law, every advertisement for residential contracting must contain the contractor’s HIC registration number.  An advertisement is defined as “any commercial message in any newspaper, magazine, leaflet, flyer, catalog, display space in the telephone book, on radio, television, public address system, or made in person, by letter or other printed material, or any interior or exterior sign or display, including on a vehicle.”  201 CMR 18.01(2) Advertisement.

This list is extensive and includes “other printed material,” like business cards, and “exterior signs,” like store fronts and lawn signs.  Many contractors interpret this rule to mean that they must discard all noncompliant preprinted materials to achieve compliance, but that is not necessarily the case.  A contractor can satisfy his obligation under the law by conspicuously writing his HIC registration number on those materials.  In the case of business cards and lawn signs, this can usually be accomplished with a permanent marker.  Of course, when the stock of preprinted materials is exhausted, it would be wise to include the HIC registration number in the next printing.

The Office of Consumer Affairs does monitor the advertising practices of home improvement contractors.  We recently scanned dozens of telephone books for the advertisements of residential contractors.  Because education is our first priority in matters like these, we mailed letters to hundreds of contractors informing them their advertisements did not contain their HIC registration numbers.  We explained the rule and identified what the penalties could be – fines and/or a reprimand or the suspension or revocation of their registrations.

Contractors are becoming increasingly aware of the advertising rules.  I receive more business cards at home shows and trade shows now than I did a few years ago.  That’s a good sign.

Steven J. Zuilkowski is a hearing officer for the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation.  Steve conducts hearings to determine whether contractors have violated the Massachusetts Home Improvement Contractor Law.  To have your questions relating to home improvement contracting answered by Steve in a blog post, write to him at steven.zuilkowski@state.ma.us.

Written By:


Jayda Leder-Luis is the Communications Coordinator at the Office of Consumer Affairs & Business Regulation.

Recent Posts

Chances Are, You’ve Had to Deal with One of These 5 Consumer Issues posted on Aug 14

Last month, the Consumer Federation of America published a list of their top ten consumer complaints. In it, they named many of the issues that the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulations keeps consumers informed about, ranging from auto complaints to fraud and scams.   …Continue Reading Chances Are, You’ve Had to Deal with One of These 5 Consumer Issues

The Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation Offers Disaster Relief Tips for Residents of Revere posted on Aug 5

The Massachusetts Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulations advises residents of Revere who were impacted by last week’s tornado to be cautious as they look for repair assistance and seek to file insurance claims. It is important that consumers make sure they are hiring   …Continue Reading The Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation Offers Disaster Relief Tips for Residents of Revere

Craigslist Scam Alert: How You Could You Be Paying Someone to Steal Your Personal Info posted on Jul 24

Over the past week, the Consumer Hotline has received two complaints about a scam on Craigslist where buyers are scamming sellers out of money and their personal information. Callers reported being scammed when trying to sell an item on Craigslist. Online buyers would offer to   …Continue Reading Craigslist Scam Alert: How You Could You Be Paying Someone to Steal Your Personal Info