A simple, but serious scenario, is playing out more and more often at local do-it-yourself box stores in the Bronx.
According to sources, Bronxites shopping at stores such as Home Depot and Walmart have been victimized by people claiming to be experienced contractors.
These ‘con contractors’ usually begin their scheme in a store’s parking lot, in a very friendly, harmless fashion – by offering to help customers carry their materials and supplies and help them load them into the vehicles.
Sometimes the customer is actually approached in the store. Once the customers are approached, the false contractors begin to the nosily check out the purchased supplies, claiming that they know exactly how to install or set up any project that the customers happens to be working on.
News flash – they say this to every customer they encounter.
After the so-called contractors convince customers to trust them with the job, they eventually perform a poor job.
So in an attempt to save money, the consumer is really paying double for the work because he now has to hire another contractor to redo the shoddy work the first guy did.
Although this scam mostly occurs in big-box stores, it effects mom-and-pop stores as well.
“It’s important to treat customers and especially homeowners correctly, and these ‘contractors’ are doing just the opposite,” said Bob Bieder, owner of Westchester Square Plumbing Supply, which has been in business for over 90 years.
“As somebody who has a strong background in home improvement, it hurts to hear that it has been going on and I hate to see it taking place.”
On the contrary, some of the conned customers, although victims, may only have themselves to blame.
Reportedly, there have been instances of customers looking to save money by hiring one of these so-called contractors instead of a well-experienced but more expensive mechanic.
“When it comes to home improvement, some customers look to save $500 here, $1,000 there by hiring a false contractor – and they get what they pay for,” said Dave Flannery, owner of Flannery Home Center who has over 30 years of experience in home improvement.
“My advice concerning this situation is for customers to hire a real contractor – especially with a job costing $5,000 or more. Depend on the old and reliable!”
Bieder had the same advice for customers.
“Plan ahead and hire a reasonable contractor – places such as Castle Hill Electrical Supply, New Eljam Products, Inc. and Pelham Bay Home Center are very reliable,” Bieder said.