By Ken Wilson, Owner of The Gutter Boys
We’ve all heard of the phrase “storm chasing,” especially if you watch The Weather Channel. Storm chasers follow inclement weather—often in funny looking, tornado-proof cars—in the hope of learning more about storms and their impact. Some chase storms simply for the thrill, but there is another type of storm chaser as well. Storm chasers who follow in the wake of devastating storms looking to profiteer with roofing, siding, and gutter jobs are the focus of this post. Those are the companies that pop in and out of towns, provide shoddy work, and give no actual guarantee.
These companies watch for severe weather to strike an area, only to then flood it with door knockers. These traveling salespeople aggressively swarm door-to-door, capitalizing on the vulnerability of consumers who simply want their homes to be whole again. It’s true that a customer in crisis can be taken advantage of. High-pressure sales tactics are the norm, and the cost of the roofing, siding, and gutter jobs are typically hyper-inflated well beyond what is reasonable. Everyone is overwhelmed, including the insurance company, so these jobs are done lightning-quick and without accountability. Once the job is completed, the storm chasers pack up shop and travel to newly impacted areas. If issues arise, and they almost always do, too bad—they are long gone!
Unfortunately, there are shams out there. Every so often, we hear stories in the news about storm chasers being arrested for collecting insurance payments without actually doing any work. Thankfully, this level of deceit is rare. A much more common scenario is that the work that is provided by some of these storm-chasing companies is often shoddy and professional, and sometimes the materials used are of lower quality.
This can happen to anyone: It happened to my dad. He called me because his roof leaked like a sieve after it was replaced. I went down and inspected the work. It was embarrassing. The company used the cheapest labor and the cheapest three-tab shingles (dimensional are best) and charged twice the price! Again, insurance paid the bill. The storm chasers who got my dad had zero incentive to provide high-quality work.
How can you avoid being scammed by a storm-chasing company? Stick with local roofing and gutter companies. Local companies are invested in and accountable to the community. They are usually around long-term, which means they’ll have to stand behind their work if they are to maintain a good reputation. With a local company, you’ll get better quality service, higher quality materials, and a warranty that actually means something. Also, pay with a credit card as recommended by the Better Business Bureau (BBB). Credit cards have fraud protection in the case that shoddy service—or no service—is rendered. Finally, do your research. Review companies on multiple sites like Google, Angi, BBB, HomeAdvisor, and other relevant home service industry sites.