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BBB Warns of Asphalt Scams

The BBB is warning consumers and businesses that asphalt scam artists are out and about trying to rustle up jobs.

It’s that time of year when you might get an unexpected knock on your door — especially if you have an older or unpaved parking lot or driveway. The Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota (BBB) is warning consumers and businesses that asphalt scam artists are out and about trying to rustle up jobs. These operators often go door-to-door claiming they have extra asphalt from a nearby project and they’re willing to do work at a discounted rate. However, the quality of work is often sub-par and the final cost can sometimes be double – or even many times - the quoted price.

The BBB has received numerous reports from area consumers who have fallen prey to this scam in recent weeks. The BBB also notes that in most of these cases contracts were not provided prior to the work being performed; all agreements were verbal. Customers who deal with companies that operate in this fashion quickly discover that if there are problems with the work performed, they only have a phone number for the company and no other way to contact them if calls are not returned – which is often the case.

“This is what we call a classic scam, and people fall victim to it every day during the paving season somewhere in Minnesota and North Dakota,” said Dana Badgerow, President and CEO of the BBB. “Worse yet, the elderly are often the ones this scam targets most.”

To avoid asphalt scams, be sure you know who you’re dealing with. Research the company first at bbb.org. Also, watch for these common signs of an asphalt scam:

  • The claim the company has leftover asphalt from another job. Be aware of paving companies that approach your home, stating that they are “in the area” and have extra asphalt or concrete to repair your driveway for a minimal cost. Professional asphalt contractors know, with great accuracy, how much paving material is needed to complete a project. Rarely will they have leftover material.
  • High pressure sales. Never hire someone on the spot. Trustworthy contractors provide a written estimate that will be valid for days or weeks. Ask for local references and verify that the contractor is in compliance, current and up-to-date with all local licensing, bonding and insuring requirements. If you feel that you are being subjected to high-pressure sales tactics, the BBB advises you to end the conversation and tell the company you’re not interested.
  • Deals that seem too good to be true. If the quoted price seems very low, chances are the quality of work will also be quite low. Many times the company will quote a low price for their work and upon completion overcharge the customer.
  • No contract is offered. Insist on a written estimate specifying in detail the work to be performed and the agreed total price, not just price per square foot. Then get at least two more quotes before hiring a contractor.
  • Cash-only sales. Most reputable contractors take checks or credit cards and don’t require cash-only terms and will not demand payment in advance.
  • Unmarked trucks. Often the trucks they travel in are unmarked or they have an out-of-town address and phone number. A little research will reveal that they have no permanent address and the phone number is often an answering machine or answering service.

A professionally designed and properly constructed asphalt pavement will last for many years, and reputable contractors will stand behind their work. They will also know whether or not a permit could be required before work begins. Consumers are often safer dealing with a contractor who has roots in the community. Contact the BBB for a free Business Review on any company you are considering doing business with by visiting bbb.org.

The mission of the Better Business Bureau is to be the leader in building marketplace trust by promoting, through self-regulation, the highest standards of business ethics and conduct, and to instill confidence in responsible businesses through programs of education and action that inform, assist and protect the general public. Our hours of operation are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Contact the BBB at bbb.org or 651-699-1111, toll-free at 1-800-646-6222. Visit our Centennial website at bbbis100.org.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Daniel June 20, 2012 at 02:31 AM
When the City of Saint Louis Park allows panhandlers free range, can the gypsies be far behind?
Kerry Millman June 20, 2012 at 02:19 PM
I believe the City of St. Louis Park has an ordinance that requires solictors to show a state id (license, etc) plus a permit from the city to homeowners and we should ask to see it.
Michael Rose June 20, 2012 at 02:41 PM
@Kerry - Here is the SLP city code I could find: No person shall engage in the business of peddler, solicitor or transient merchant unless the person has first registered as provided in this section. Registrants shall file with the city a sworn written statement which shall include the following information: (1) The name and permanent home address for the past five years of the registrant, and the current local address of the registrant; (2) In the case of transient merchants, the place where the business is to be carried on, a description of the nature of the business and of the goods to be sold; (3) The name and address of the employer or principal of the registrant, and the name and address of any supplier of the registrant. Credentials establishing the exact relationship of the registrant to the employer or principal shall be attached to the registration; (4) The period of time within which the registrant intends to conduct the permitted activities; (5) The source of supply of any goods or property proposed to be sold, where such goods or products are located at the time the registration is filed, and the proposed method of delivery of such goods or property; (6) A recent photograph of the registrant which shall be approximately two inches by two inches, showing the head and shoulders of the registrant, in a clear and distinguishing manner;
Brad Kadue June 22, 2012 at 12:11 AM
Not sure, but maybe Daniel is referring to the regular panhandlers at the intersections of Louisiana/394 and Xenia/394.
Daniel June 23, 2012 at 11:28 PM
Yes, Brad they are all over the city. I have been approached at multiple locations. Usually gas stations. Sometimes by the same guy with a different story and a disffernt look. One day he was on his way to church and forgot his wallet the next time he was trying to feed his children. etc. I am also referring to the driveway sealering gypsies. This is an old gypsy scam. The police need to be watching for them and the city council needs to be requiring IDs for these panhandlers. It is done in other cities. They are required to be registered, wear an ID tag, and a blaze yellow vest for their own safety.

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