What to ask before hiring snow plow company

By Diane Walker - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

GOOCHLAND, VA (WWBT) – With this third round of winter weather snow plow contractors will be busy clearing drive ways and racking up sales. But 12 on Your Side has a Consumer Alert that could save you money and the frustration of trying to recoup your losses after your drive way is cleared.

Steven Price called 12 for help because the bizarre happened twice. The snow removal contractor did his job well in clearing his driveway, says Steven, but he jacked up the price each time. First, the December 18 snowfall...

"When they were done, said I owed them $250. I said the gal on the phone told me it was $125. He said she made a mistake," said Steven Price. "People make mistakes, so I just chalked it up to that and went ahead and paid him."

And again, last Saturday's snow storm.

"I said what do I owe you? He said same as last time, $400. I said last time it wasn't $400. Last time it was $250. He said no it was $400," said Price.

Steven showed the contractor his check book to show the $250 he paid to get his driveway plowed the first time. Still, the contractor demanded $400. When the labor is already done, what can you do? We asked the B.B.B.

"I think you can always refuse to pay. We had an agreement for $250," said Tom Gallagher of the Better Business Bureau.

"I just wanted him out of here," Price said. "I'm not about to get into a fight with him. It was my responsibility to ask him in advance what he was going to charge me."

I researched the business: 'Wells Paving & Seal Coating'. It has an A-plus rating with the Better Business Bureau, and on its website, owner Pete Wells promises to never make commitments they don't intend to keep.

45 minutes after talking with the company owner, Steven Price got a refund -- $150, and an apology. The owner says his son inadvertently went to the wrong house, under instructions the driveway was a $400 job.

"I'm so happy to see this has gotten resolved and I'm happy for the consumer, and I happy for the company too," said Gallagher.

The owner of 'Wells Paving and Seal Coating' says it was an honest mistake both times. Gallagher says businesses have a responsibility to clarify concerns -- that worker should have called the boss, and the homeowner admits it was 'his' responsibility to ask, in advance, about the price.

(c) 2010. WWBT, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.