As a Consumer It Is Up to You to Protect Yourself
We understand that we can only do so much to help you and that ultimately it is up to you to protect yourself. However, we want to give you as much information as possible so you can determine if the company you are talking to or dealing with is reputable.
Protect yourself from poor workmanship and FRAUD!
Make sure your chimney company complies with these 7 consumer protection policies and strict standards of ethical behavior.
Unfortunately, many contractors in the service industry are known for their lack of integrity and ethics. Things like making promises they don’t keep…or maybe quoting a low up front price, then tricking you with expensive add-ons that you don’t need.
Your first line of defense is to make sure the chimney company you call is legitimate and reputable. Even if their phone skills seem polished and their trucks look new, the problems could be just beginning! Never judge a chimney company by their appearance alone! Insist that the following documentation be provided before you let them into your home.
Seven “Consumer Protection Policies” a Chimney Sweep must Provide For You:
- Current Contractor/Business License (where applicable): Make sure they have been operating under the same name for a minimum of 5 years. Many sweep companies pop up in the fall but an astounding 48% of them go out of business in their first year. What’s more, many of those that went out of business will open up the following fall under a different name to avoid the past customer complaints and problems.
- Written Statement from the Better Business Bureau: You need to go farther than just checking out their standing with the BBB. Remember, many Sweep companies shut down and open up under new names year after year. Instead, ask to see a copy of a written statement about BBB arbitration on the contractor’s behalf. This means that if complaints arise, the sweep company agrees that the BBB’s judgment is binding and must perform accordingly. Without this agreement, you have no recourse.
- Current References: All reputable Chimney companies carry pre-printed lists of references…from customers from 1-5 years ago, as well as recent customers. They should also have copies of written comments from actual customers after services were completed.
- Trade Associations Certificates of Standing: Belonging to the National Chimney Sweep Guild and/or a state chimney sweep guild and possibly other trade associations implies some quality and ethical integrity on behalf of the company.
- Certifications. The Chimney Safety Institute of America has a comprehensive certification program for chimney sweeps. Once a technician has successfully passed these requirements he receives “Certified Chimney Sweep” status, a certification number and photo ID badge. In some companies only the owner has this certification and the technicians that actually come to your home are not certified. Always ask to see the technician’s certification badge before allowing them to proceed with any work.
- General Liability Insurance Certificate – Not “Self-Insured”: You need to know if the chimney company carries general liability insurance for both commercial and residential projects. A reputable company carries no less than $500,000 and usually around a $1,000,000 of coverage. If the company’s insurance policy can’t cover damages, then they would be personally liable. If they cannot cover the damages, you will have little legal recourse and will end up paying for any damages yourself. Over three-fourths of contractors and service companies are not financially stable…and don’t carry proper insurance coverage to protect you against losses.
- Surety Bonded and Supplier Status Letter: Bonding is required of all residential contractors in the state of Oregon. It simply protects your home from a lien in the case a contractor does not pay for materials he may provide at your job. Just as important is a written confirmation of the company’s status and dealings with his suppliers. These letters are easy to obtain if he pays his suppliers within the agreed terms. If any company tells you these letters are difficult to obtain, there might be something they are trying to hide.
Choose American Chimney with Confidence
Of the 32 chimney repair and sweep companies in the greater Portland area there is ONLY one company that complies with these 7 Consumer Protection Policies and these high Standards of Ethical Behavior…that’s American Chimney & Masonry! Experience, quality, price and credentials make American Chimney the best choice when selecting a chimney care professional. We are licensed, bonded, insured and registered with the construction contractors board.