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Armand L. Fontaine

Tips to Homeowners

June 02, 1985

Question: I recently called a home improvement contractor from an ad that I had seen in the Yellow Pages. He refused to come out unless both my wife and I were home. When the contractor finally did get to our house for the appointment (an hour late), he spent over four hours.

During that time, he drew a sketch of the project and was able to give me a firm price quote within a matter of two or three hours. When I told him that I wanted to shop around, he continued to pressure me and would not leave. He actually got very angry when I finally demanded that he leave our house (after midnight).

Answer: This used to be very common in the "old days," but now there are so many laws protecting consumers that most contractors are no longer as insistent on making one-stop sales.

The salesman was working from a price book that usually includes mark-ups that are on the high side because they forgive estimating errors. You should always interview at least three contractors before entering into a contract. You should also get specifics on the quality of the products that are going into the home-improvement project and you certainly want to take time to read the contract carefully, including the fine print.

I would not consider doing business with a person of the type you described. However, many sales organizations and contractors want both husband and wife present because usually it is necessary for both to agree to the terms of the contract and the work to be done. This is rather standard operating procedure, not only in the home improvement industry, but often where large-ticket items are sold.

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