Whether you need someone to fix the torsion strings or install a brand new garage door, you want the help of a company that you can trust, especially when repairing a part of your home that usually provides access inside.
Our Office has recently learned of a company scamming residents by impersonating a legitimate garage door repair and installation company in Chelmsford, Chelmsford Garage Door, Inc. The scam company uses names very similar to the legitimate company and lies about the company being sold or an employee no longer working there when pressed by consumers to speak to a specific individual. Such names include the words “Chelmsford” and “garage door,” “Chelmsfordgaragedoorhandyman,” “garagedoorrepairchelmsford,” “garagedoorrepairchelmsfordma” and other iterations involving repair and maintenance of garage doors in Chelmsford to confuse prospective customers.
Consumers hire the fraudulent company, thinking they are hiring the trusted and well-known business, and pay for repair or installation work that is either not done or done poorly. The legitimate company has hired an attorney to assist them with their imposter, protect the company’s reputation and to help put a stop to scamming their clients.
This issue raises a point of concern that our Office frequently warns consumers about: watch out for scammers who are looking to use the damages and faults in your home to make easy money. In order to avoid falling victim to fraudulent businesses, look out for the following:
- Make sure your garage door repair company is properly registered as a Home Improvement Contractor with our Office. Contractors who engage in residential home improvement contracting agreements with homeowners for work on their primary residence of four units or less are required to register with OCABR.
- Check the full name of the company you plan to hire. Scammers use similar names to confuse consumers, especially elders. Make sure the website or social media associated with the company matches the name by which you know them.
- Check their reputation with the Better Business Bureau and read online reviews.
- Does the company have a physical address? You can check to see if an address is real by using Google Maps. If you cannot pinpoint a headquarter location, it may be cause for concern about whether the company is legitimate.
- Can you identify their employees? If the repair technician shows up in an unmarked van, without a uniform, or without some identifiable connection to the company he works for, be alert. Advertising is expensive, but most companies display their name or logo in some form that is easy to check.
- Research the cost of your project ahead of time. Avoid companies that provide estimates for their work at a significantly higher price than what the industry deems as reasonable. It’s best to get two to three estimates from different companies to determine if their costs and timeline are similar. Be cautious of technicians asking for money up front, especially in cash. Never pay for the job in advance.
- Get everything in writing. Jobs costing over $1,000 are required to have a contract, but our Office suggests a contract for every job, every time. Get a written contract that specifies the price, labor, and time frame of the job before authorizing the start of any work. Never sign anything unless you have thoroughly read all paperwork and are aware of any warranties or guarantees.
- Watch out for Lifetime guarantees. Although this seems attractive, it can be a sign of a scam. By offering a lifetime guarantee, scammers look to install parts that will purposefully fail and replace them for free, but charge a heavy service fee for the installation.
If you have additional questions, contact the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation by calling our Consumer Hotline at (617) 973-8787, or toll-free in MA at (888) 283-3757, Monday through Friday, from 9 am-4:30 pm. Follow the Office on Facebook and Twitter, @Mass_Consumer. The Baker-Polito Administration’s Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation along with its five agencies work together to achieve two goals: to protect and empower consumers through advocacy and education, and to ensure a fair playing field for all Massachusetts businesses. The Office also oversees the state’s Lemon Laws, data breach reporting, Home Improvement Contractor Program and the state’s Do Not Call Registry.
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