Outsmart the Scammers: Top Tips for Spotting and Avoiding Bait & Switch Schemes

March 15, 2023

The reputation of the roofing industry leaves much to be desired. Many homeowners (rightly so) approach roofing companies with caution and may not fully trust them.

This mistrust often arises from contractors exploiting unsuspecting homeowners to make quick money through fear tactics, particularly after severe storms sweep through an area.

Companies, known as storm chasers, follow these powerful storms and inundate affected areas with sales representatives. Their sole purpose is to employ scare tactics to sell roofing services.

The last thing you want is to be duped into purchasing a new roof when you don't actually need one. In an effort to improve the roofing industry's image, we will provide you with five warning signs to help you avoid falling victim to unscrupulous storm chasing businesses.

At TQR Roofing, our team has been assisting homeowners in Maryland since 1992 to avoid such exploitation. We don't rely on scare tactics to sell you a new roof. If your home has sustained storm damage, we'll collaborate with you and your insurance provider to address the issue.

By the conclusion of this article, you'll understand what a storm chaser is and learn five warning signs to sidestep being scammed by a storm chasing firm.

What is a storm chaser?

The term "storm chaser" often brings to mind individuals pursuing tornadoes or other extreme weather events for excitement. However, in the roofing sector, storm chasers are known for different reasons.

Storm chasers are companies, typically from out-of-state, that enter regions affected by major storms to sell roofing services to homeowners who may have suffered storm damage. These firms deploy skilled salespeople to knock on doors and employ fear tactics to sell new roofs to unsuspecting homeowners.

To make their offers more enticing, they often undercut local roofing companies' prices. Once the salespeople secure the payments, they move on to the next storm-stricken area.

After their departure, they leave behind crews to perform the work, which is often done carelessly, with little regard for local codes or proper roof installation.

Once the workers finish and leave the site, the storm chasing company becomes unresponsive. This situation is known as a "tail light warranty," implying that the warranty vanishes as soon as their tail lights are out of sight.

What Is a Bait and Switch?

A bait and switch transpires when an attractive deal entices you into a transaction—the "bait"—but as you're ready to pay, the offer is either unattainable or differs from what was initially promoted—the "switch."

Given that you might be pressed for time and have already invested effort in seeking the product or service, you become more susceptible to accepting the switch, even if it's costlier or not precisely what you initially sought.

The Warning Signs

Acquiring the ability to identify a fraudulent scheme is crucial for your personal and financial security. It is not only important to steer clear of unscrupulous vendors, but also to safeguard your financial well-being.

Here are several indicators that you might be dealing with untrustworthy individuals:

  • They request your payment information, such as your credit card number, before clarifying the work specifics or delivering any services.
  • Their advertisement features numerous free or significantly discounted services without any conditions. Be cautious of asterisks and extensive fine print, as these may disclose loopholes the company can exploit to avoid responsibility if you become a scam victim.
  • They arrive in an unmarked vehicle and lack uniforms or identification.
  • They inform you that the original product or service you requested is no longer available and then push you to acquire a pricier alternative.
  • They reveal that the initial deal is merely a part of a larger product or service and insist that you must buy the entire package to obtain what you require.

What to do If You've Fallen Victim to a Scam

Report the Incident

If you suspect you've fallen prey to a fraudulent scheme, it's crucial to inform your local authorities. Your complaint could help close down the scam and protect others from being deceived in the future.

Reach Out to Your Bank

If your payment hasn't been processed yet, you might be able to halt it before the fraudster receives it. Moreover, if you think your credit card or bank account number has been jeopardized, request the bank to issue replacements.

Pursue Legal Measures

If you've incurred significant losses due to a bait-and-switch tactic, seeking legal recourse to recover your damages could be an option.

Nevertheless, scammers often exploit various loopholes to keep their activities within legal boundaries, making it a challenging case to win. If you had no opportunity to exit before being charged and there was no fine print or upfront disclaimer, you might have a case.

Regrettably, scams are widespread, and becoming a victim can have severe mental and financial consequences. Before committing to new companies or making substantial purchases, ensure you conduct thorough research.

At TQR Roofing, our team has been assisting homeowners in Baltimore, MD, and nearby regions with storm-damaged roofs since 1992. Our goal is to offer a supportive experience during these challenging moments. If you're a resident of the Baltimore area, feel free to reach out to us for assistance in addressing your storm-related damage.

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