Unscrupulous Business Practices Exposed: No April Fools Joke

By Timothy Lodge


April Fools Day is the time of the year when everyone brings out their inner jester. Your friends, coworkers, and family members are bound to be scheming their own dirty tricks and foolish pranks all so they can exploit your gullibility and have a laugh at your expense. Harmless pranksters aside, there are some tricksters out to gain far more than a chuckle at your very real and substantial expense. And, we have to be on guard against them all year around. Take a small business, for example. Many engage in unscrupulous business practices, playing dirty tricks on consumers, cheating them out of their money. No one is more familiar with the unscrupulous business practices prevalent in their industries than the honest business owner who has to compete on an unfair playing field.  That’s why we’ve reached out to our networked businesses to expose some of the dirty tricks that some of their competitors like to play on customers and, worst of all, their wallets!

Taking The Easy Way Out At The Customer’s Expense

Businesses have an interest in getting customers out of the door as quickly as possible. That may be why one computer pro, Christopher: owner of our January Business of the Month Cheaper Than A Geek, sees this problem so prevalent among his competitors. As Christopher explains, “Often our competitors, when facing a difficult virus infection, will instead take the easy way out. They WIPE OUT the operating system and reinstall Windows! This delete’s the customer’s files, settings and programs! We have heard stories of this occurring when they don’t even warn the customer what they are doing!” Perhaps Christopher’s willingness to do extra work to avoid inconveniencing his customers is why he got such an outpouring of votes and positive feedback in January. So, next time a computer pro tells you he needs to wipe out your system, consider getting a second opinion from pros like these guys in Crofton, MD.

The Lowball

Competing with businesses that operate unfairly is hard enough, but when it’s a major chain, it can be even more difficult. This time, it’s a big box store employing a dirty trick – “the lowball” which Raymond Sass of Newton, CT Handyman Connection calls what he here describes. “One of the big box stores advertises a low price for many of their services, which lures customers away from legitimate contractors who quote a fair price,” Sass explains, adding that when it comes time for the company to actually do the job, “the customer finds the lowball price was for a simple job, and many of the normally necessary parts of the job weren’t included. The job winds up costing the homeowner more than we quoted originally.” Sass’ story proves that low prices might not always get the job done, so it’s important to always confirm what’s included.

Selling Customers Things They Don’t Need

According to David Bustamante of Climate Control in Austin, TX, “an air conditioning company will pay their employees commission on any new parts or equipment they sell. The employee not being ethical, and wanting to earn more wages, will lie to the homeowner and tell them they need this new part or new piece of equipment, and the homeowner, not having any idea what is really wrong, having to trust this serviceman, and is uncomfortable, will probably agree and authorize the repairs, even though they were deceived.” This tale illustrates why it’s so important to get multiple quotes on any major repair, there’s security in numbers.

Simple Misdiagnosis Costing Customers Thousands

Of course, even an honest mistake can cost customers thousands. Another HVAC pro discussed how a technician, if not thorough, can miss a simple fix that would prevent the need for a costly replacement. “There may be a simple burnt wire, or a weak capacitor”, the pro lamented, adding that if the technician misses it, “they will condemn the compressor, which is the heart of the refrigeration system, and that can lead to thousands of dollars to repair, when in reality it could’ve of been repaired for a lot less.” Although the error may not be intentional, not such a lackluster effort to avoid a more costly repair is callous at best, and self-serving at worst. It also once again underscores the value of multiple quotes.

Brand Theft Motto

Grand Theft Auto may be financially devastating, and identity theft can ruin your credit; but, brand theft is no less unfair than either. Bill Farley of House Doctors Handyman Professionals in Arlington Texas must have established a very well-known and reputable brand to fall victim to this dirty trick. He says that “using our registered company name as though it was theirs… deceives the customer into thinking they are getting the original. It’s like having a hamburger place and calling it McDonald’s Hamburgers”. Bill’s story illustrates why consumers should research businesses before hiring them, even if they selected them based on a referral. It’s easy to be confused by similar company names or fooled by intentional knock-offs.

Thanks to all of our local businesses for delivering great service to our customers and sharing their insights here.

Have you ever had any of these dirty tricks done to you? Are you tired of shady small business practices? To protect yourself from tricks such as these you should always ask questions and do plenty of research when deciding on a contractor or small business. To get a free guide on things you should do before hiring a contractor, scroll to the bottom of this blog entry and click “Get The Guide”!


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