Avoiding Snow Removal Scams Starts With How Much You Pay
Snow removal scams can target not only corporations with large parking lots but also residential driveways. To avoid falling victim to these scams, it's important to be an educated consumer and know what to look out for. In this article, we will provide tips for home and property owners in Toronto to avoid snow removal scams and protect their money and property.
Beware of Low Prices
One of the warning signs of a snow removal scam is an unusually low price. In 2016, the basic price of a seasonal contract for a small residential driveway and walkway should start at approximately $1250.00 per season to cover the contractor's basic costs and overhead. If a contractor offers a price that seems too good to be true, such as $250.00 to $350.00 for the entire season, it's likely a red flag. These scammers may claim that the customer's property is easy to clear, but in reality, this low price may not cover the contractor's expenses to provide quality service throughout the winter.
Risks of Fraudulent Contracts
Entering into an agreement with a fraudulent contractor can have various negative outcomes. For example:
- The contractor may have no intention of actually clearing the snow at the property. They may show up once with a shovel for a short time to avoid criminal fraud charges. Since the contractor has visited the property, it may be challenging for the police to charge them with fraud. As a result, the property owner may be left with no snow service and no legal recourse other than small claims court, which may not be pursued due to the small amount of money involved.
- The fraudulent contractor may sell the contract to someone else, and the homeowner loses control over who performs the work and may face service issues without knowing who is responsible.
- The fraudulent contractor may book multiple jobs but cancel the inexpensive residential contracts before the service season begins, leaving homeowners without snow removal service even after paying a deposit.
Delayed or Inadequate Service
Even if a fraudulent contractor intends to carry out the work, they may have too many service calls to make, leaving residential clients with low priority. Homeowners may have to wait for days or even a week to get their property cleared, especially during big storms. Moreover, the contract may be vague, leaving room for the contractor to add unexpected charges, such as overage fees, extra salt charges, and heavy accumulation charges. Homeowners may end up paying much more than the original contract amount and experiencing undue stress.
Know Your Responsibility as a Homeowner
It's crucial for homeowners in Toronto to understand their responsibility for snow and ice removal, as stated in the City of Toronto's by-law. According to the by-law, homeowners must clear snow and ice from their property within 12 hours following the end of a snowfall. If a homeowner hires a fraudulent contractor and fails to fulfill this responsibility, they may not only lose money but also face legal liabilities if someone is injured on their property due to negligence.
How to Protect Yourself
To avoid falling victim to snow removal scams in Toronto, it's essential to research contractors thoroughly before signing up with them. Be wary of prices that seem too good to be true and always ask for detailed information about the services included in the contract. Check the contractor's credentials, reputation, and customer reviews. Get multiple quotes from different contractors and compare them to ensure that you are getting a reasonable and competitive price. Avoid making full payments in advance and consider paying in installments or after the service