Beware the Home Appliance Repair Scam
Your dishwasher is overflowing; your clothes dryer is on the fritz; your refrigerator isn't running. A malfunctioning appliance can turn your home upside down, and worse, cause more damage than some dirty dishes. So, we trust that when we call a business calling itself "A Plus Appliance Repair" or "Rescue Appliance," that we'll get a competent repair person who can fix what's wrong.
But that's not what was happening in Cincinnati, according to a lawsuit filed by the Ohio Attorney General. The suit claims Terry Haynes was taking payment from prospective customers, then never delivering on the repairs.
D Minus Scam
"After accepting money from consumers," Ohio AG Mike DeWine claims, "Haynes allegedly failed to deliver the promised services or did repair work that was shoddy or incomplete." The lawsuit is seeking reimbursement for those customers as well as a permanent injunction to stop any future violations of consumer protection laws.
"Most contractors are reputable and do a great job, but there are some people who just don't finish the work they were paid to do," Attorney General DeWine said. "In these cases, our goal is to protect consumers. We take action to try to get people their money back and prevent this from happening to other people."
Rescuing Your Appliances
The Ohio AG's office also had some words of wisdom for those needing household appliance repair in the future:
- Research contractors carefully. Don't rely solely on online search results. Research the company's name and the name of the owner or other individuals involved. Search for complaints filed by other consumers. Find out if the business name is registered with the Ohio Secretary of State. Keep in mind that some operators change business names regularly to make it harder for consumers to find their record of poor service. If possible, talk to previous customers to learn about their experiences with the contractor.
- Be wary if you're asked to make large upfront payments. Some operators take a large down payment, do little or no work, and leave without finishing the job. Be skeptical if you're asked to make a large payment before any work begins. If possible, pay in increments as the work is completed.
- Consider paying with a credit card, if possible. Compared to cash or check, paying with a credit card generally gives you greater ability to dispute charges if a problem arises.
And if you think you've been scammed, contact your state consumer protection office, or a local attorney for help.
- Find Consumer Protection Lawyers Near You (FindLaw's Lawyer Directory)
- Beware the Affair Scam (Especially If You're Actually Having One) (FindLaw's Common Law)
- Beware This PayPal Scam: Email Says Money Posted in Your Account (FindLaw's Common Law)
- Beware 'Check Overpayment' Scams When Selling Online (FindLaw's Common Law)