Scam Alert: Watch out for paving pitch; contact authorities

Special to the Idaho StatesmanJune 5, 2014 

Ada County resident Nancy Kozlowski and her husband, Joseph, were so concerned about the paving company installing asphalt on their neighbor's drive that she called to verify the company's trustworthiness.

"The price was just too good to believe," she says of the pitch made to her by the company. "They said they could put in 300 feet of asphalt on my driveway for just about $6,000."

The company went from her doorstep to the neighbor, who accepted an offer.

Kozlowski's driveway is a dirt lane. She knew that a good road base, gravel and grading would be needed to put the asphalt on or it would crack.

"I've been driving up this lane for so many years, I think I can drive up it another 15 years," she says.

BBB has received calls from Eagle, New Plymouth, Tetonia and Garden City about paving companies doing work in the Snake River Region.

A New Plymouth homeowner says representatives of the same company that approached Kozlowski misrepresented their identity. At times, she said, she was confused about who she was dealing with.

In Tetonia, the salesman said he was from Idaho Falls, but the truck had Minnewaukan, N.D., on the door and license plates from North Dakota.

Summertime brings a warning to not do business off the doorstep.

Door-to-door asphalt paving companies, roofing repairs, lawn services, and other seasonal workers are making the rounds trying to find work. Remember, just because someone shows up on your doorstep doesn't mean you need to panic or react.

Faulty bids, underpricing, overpricing, bad contracts, and partially done work have been reported. Old or bad contact information on business cards, printed estimates, or agreements provide little or no help to homeowners.

Watch for the warning signs:

• There are leftover materials from another job. Professional asphalt contractors know, with great accuracy, how much paving material is needed to complete each project. Rarely will they have large quantities of leftover material.

• You are pushed to make a quick decision. Trustworthy contractors will provide a written estimate that will be valid for days or weeks. It should specify in detail the work to be performed and the total price. They also don't mind you checking them out before signing a contract.

• Never do business off the porch. Check with BBB.org before buying. Research the company before agreeing to the job.

• Cash-only sales. Most reputable contractors will take checks or credit cards.

• The company is from out of state. Look at the truck the representative travels in. If it is unmarked or has an out-of-state license plate, be cautious. Even if the representative claims to have a local phone number, scammers can easily purchase disposable cellphones to provide a local number in the area they are soliciting. Also, don't be afraid to ask to see their driver's license.

If you suspect you are dealing with a questionable paving company, contact the local police or sheriff's departments immediately and then contact BBB.

Robb Hicken: 947-2115

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