Whether you are in the market for residential fencing or commercial fencing, we at Titan Fence want consumers to be aware of common scams. When it’s time to get a new fence, the number one tip we can give you is to do your research. Verify the company or contractor you are considering is licensed and that they have active insurance. See if they have references you can check out and possibly even an office in your state that you can visit.
That being said, even after proper research, it is still possible to get scammed. It is also possible to get taken advantage of and not even realize what has happened before its too late. Here are 5 common scams in the fence industry that you, as a resident or business owner, should be aware of.
1. Falsely claiming they have insurance coverage
Believe it or not, there are contractors out there brazen enough to claim they have insurance coverage when they really have none. This can be bad because if a worker gets injured on the job, and their shady boss disappears, they can come after you and your home owner’s insurance policy.
Sometimes the contractors even show you a copy of their policy claiming they have coverage. What the scammers do is go and set up a policy for the bare minimum, agree on a monthly contract price, get their coverage paperwork, and never pay the monthly premiums.
Solution: If they can’t show you a policy, do not go with them. If they do show you a policy and you are not satisfied, you can call the insurance company to ensure their policy is in good standing.
2. Quoting Low or “Footage Padding”
Sometimes this is done without a contractor knowing, it can be done by a shady sales rep who is simply trying to increase their commissions. The sales rep, or contractor, will give you a good price per square foot, but the total square footage on the quote will be low. Once you see the contract, the price per square foot is the same, but all of a sudden the total square footage on the contract is higher than what was quoted to you.
Solution: Double check the square footage from the quote and the actual contract. If the contract price is higher than the quote you should be given advance warning with a proper explanation.
3. “Payment Is Required Upfront”
This is common throughout any industry, contracting, construction, repair, renovation, etc. A full upfront payment is asked for. If you pay 100% upfront, you have no guarantee that the work will actually be finished. In the fence industry specifically, an up-front payment, or deposit, of 25%-40% is absolutely reasonable.
Solution: Simply put, do not pay the entire balance until the work is completed. If the work is finished later in the evening and the contractor wants payment that night, refuse until the next morning when you are able to go over their work in the daytime.
4. “The Cost of Materials Went Up – We Need More Money”
Just like scam #3, this one is also common throughout many industries involving construction, installation, and/or renovation. The contractor will claim that there was an unexpected cost increase for materials and the job will cost more than agreed on.
In the fence industry, contractors deal with the same groups of suppliers every single day. If there is going to be a price increase, they will usually have advance notice; sometimes, even weeks before the actual increase.
Solution: Do not ever agree to pay more money than was quoted on the contract. It is illegal for a contractor to refuse to finish the work because of something like this (if it’s not in the contract).
5. Bait and Switch – Vague Material Description
A common complaint that unhappy new-fence customers have is signing a contract expecting something like cedar which would last 15-20 years but instead get cheap pine. How is this legal? The contract will say something vague like “cedar fencing.” The ambiguity of this wording leaves it open for the contractor to interpret it however they want.
They may also lead you to believe you are getting 2×4 back rail boards when they plan on cutting corners and saving money by installing 1×4 back rails. 1×4 sized rails are not always bad, but they are if you believe you are paying for 2×4.
Solution: Be sure and get specifics on what exactly it is you are paying for. Specifics on the type of wood (ex: is it a high-grade cedar or is it cheap Chinese cedar?) If you are unsure about something, just ask for clarification.