I've been hearing contractors in the Montgomery Alabama area advertising on the radio using a popular scare tactic to get business - up front money. They advertise NO up front money and by this they are implying that you will get cheated or taken advantage of by contractors that DO require up front money.
This is a an easy lie to perpetrate or to insinuate because it is a message that many homeowners like/want to hear and will accept as truth because it benefits them.
This is how the "Affordable Health Care Act" became law. Politicians simply told people what they knew people wanted to hear - cheaper and all inclusive health care. There was no truth to it from the beginning but people "wanted" to believe that it was true.
Con men often say that they can't con anyone who doesn't want to be conned. People will go along with a lie or a con if they believe they will profit from it.
Many homeowners who have been conned and had money taken from them by contractors, may have opened themselves up to it because they were specifically looking for a "bargain", a "deal" or a "steal". Con men and bad contractors seek out these type of people by advertising "cheap prices" or "deals". When people call them the bad guys know they have them.
I've been a contractor for twenty years and I would like to give you the other side of the contractor / homeowner coin. I started out as a home remodeler and I got a contract to repair a house that had been severely damaged by a tornado. I replaced the roof, the flooring, doors, windows, repaired sheetrock and much more. I fronted all the materials and labor and when I finished I didn't get paid. The homeowner spent all of the insurance money while I was working on their house.
There are dishonest contractors AND there are dishonest homeowners. But you'll never hear my story or others like mine on the local news because it doesn't fit the "bad" contractor narrative.
After that experience I always required half up front and half when the job was done. I used the money I received up front to buy the materials for the job (which I had delivered to the job site) and to pay my help if I had any. If I didn't get the rest of my money at least the supply house and the help would have been paid so I would only be out MY time and labor.
I never had a customer to complain about this. It could be because they knew I wouldn't cheat them because I wasn't pushing a "bargain", "deal" or a "steal". My prices were often higher than other contractors but I showed them how I provided better value for their money.
I also offered to give them a complete list of ALL my previous customers so that they could pick and choose who to call for a reference instead of my supplying just my "best" references.
Requiring no up front money is NOT a sign of honesty or dependability. It could just be a very clever trick to gain your confidence and trust in order to get you to sign a contract -- that could have fine print obligating you to pay for any additional work that the contractor deems necessary.
Often a low or no money up front price can mean MORE unexpected money at the end.
When choosing a contractor you can avoid a lot of trouble simply by using good common sense and NOT FALLING for clever advertising.
by David Pritchett
Pritchett Contracting Services