BBB ON HOMES Heed hints when hiring home holiday lighting installer
It’s that time of year again to decorate your home for the holidays, which for many homeowners will involve adding outdoor Christmas lighting.
Often, homeowners install their own lighting, but for some, the convenience and safety of hiring a professional to handle outdoor decorating is preferable to tackling the job alone.
A skilled professional installer can turn an average home into a winter wonderland within a matter of hours.
Like most industries, there are businesses with a good track record of doing quality work and offering great customer service while there are other companies that may not respond to customer complaints or address their concerns.
Every year, the Better Business Bureau of Greater Houston and South Texas receives complaints from consumers who allege certain installers have taken money up front and failed to either install or remove lights. This holiday season we have already received some complaints stating last year’s holiday lights were never removed.
If you are considering hiring a professional light installer this holiday season, the BBB offers the following handy tips:
Check out the business first. Visit www.BBBHouston.org. It is imperative to research a business’ complaint record beforehand. Too often we hear from consumers who did business with a company that had a record of unanswered or unresolved complaints. Ask for references from family and friends and, if the business gives you any references, check those out as well.
Ask for proof of insurance. A professional installer will be able to show proof of general liability and workman’s compensation insurance. Review the insurance certificate and call the insurance company listed to confirm coverage. Using an installer who does not carry insurance could increase your risk of incurring additional out-of-pocket expenses and/or being sued should an accident occur.
Try to avoid paying cash up front. It could be a scam, and you could find yourself with a lighter pocketbook instead of lights. Instead, pay with a credit card, which offers added protection, and try to pay at completion. It is a good idea to pay for light removal separately.
The lowest price isn’t always the best choice. Installation companies offering extremely low prices likely are cutting corners somewhere or playing a bait-and-switch game. Before buying into a great deal, make sure you understand what is and what is not included.
Get it all in writing. Having a written contract helps ensure the job goes as smoothly as possible and offers you the best protection if it does not. Before signing on the dotted line, make sure you understand what your responsibilities will be.
If anything is unclear, ensure you get everything ironed out beforehand. Verify the contract states that you would like both installation and removal of holiday lights.
The Better Business Bureau is an unbiased nonprofit organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. Visit www.bbbhouston.org or call 713-868-9500. Leah Napoliello is senior director of Investigative Services with the BBB of Greater Houston and South Texas. Send questions to Leah Napoliello, Better Business Bureau, 1333 West Loop South, Suite 1200, Houston, TX 77027, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Include your mailing address and phone number.