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CONSUMER ALERT: House Fix-Ups & Gym Memberships

6:24 PM, Jan 2, 2014   |    comments
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GREENSBORO, NC -- You've been sitting in the house or you've been visiting someone else. And that got you thinking, "We should do some work in this house."

The other common "fix-it" in January is you! After all the holiday indulging, many people opt to pay for a gym membership. David Dalrymple from the Better Business Bureau has guidelines for both.

HOME IMPROVEMENTS:

Don't rely solely on an internet search to find a business. The top listings in search results are not based upon reliability, quality or trust. You could very easily be choosing a company recently featured in the evening news for scheming local residents! David also says, if the company doesn't list an address, don't go with a company that you can't find! Also, he says, take your address reference check a little farther. He says use a street-level mapping website to see if their address really is their address!

Ask friends, neighbors, and acquaintances for recommendations. Check BBB for a positive or negative company history or call 1-800-777-8348. Visit nwnc.bbb.org for a list of BBB Accredited Businesses in a particular type of business.

Ask other professionals in the industry i.e. lumber yards, plumbing parts suppliers, architects, tile suppliers, interior designers, engineers, etc. for recommendations.

Check with your City Revenue Department to make sure the business has a current business license. The name of the owner, date the license was first issued, and the current license expiration date can typically be disclosed.

Don't be shy, ask the business for references. References are your way of finding out the quality of work performed for and satisfaction of previous customers. Do not place much value in a reference over 18 months old, too many changes either in management or employment might have occurred in the contractor's business since then. If a contractor is hesitant or refuses to provide references, do not work with that contractor. And don't just ask for references, check them out! Of course most contractors won't give you bad references, but by talking to previous customers you might found out some additional information such as "we were very happy with her. I'm glad you called, it reminds me I need to call her again to fix a leak."

Ask for proof of insurance. Most contractors are happy to provide you proof of insurance, since it is one way of setting themselves apart from disreputable or "fly-by-night" companies. Ask them to call their insurance company and request a Certificate of Insurance be sent directly to you. If a contractor is hesitant or refuses to provide proof of insurance, do not work with that contractor.

Get at least 3 bids. Give each contractor a detailed list of the work you would like performed, any special requirements and a complete set of plans. It is very important to convey all of the same needs to each contractor so that each bid is accurately responding to the same requests. Evaluate the bids. Make sure that each contractor has responded to your requirements. If any bid is 10% lower than the average, it should be eliminated. If bids are similar, choose the contractor you liked the most. If your favorite contractor is too high, call and tell him. Give him an opportunity to re-evaluate his bid.

Never pay for the job in advance. A typical industry standard is to pay 1/3 to start, 1/3 at 50% completion, and the remainder when the job is satisfactorily completed.

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WEB EXTRA: GYM MEMBERSHIPS

Check the BBB business review for each gym you are considering. Many gyms have good customer service history while many do not.

Carefully consider the contract. Take a copy home to read thoroughly before signing. Stay away from clubs that pressure you to sign on the spot.

  • Does the contract allow for a try-out period.
  •  What are your cancellation and refund rights if you move, become disabled, or the club closes?
  • Beware of self-renewing contracts. We see many complaints concerning a few gyms continuing to take money from accounts after the customer has ended their membership.
  • Does the contract list all services and facilities? All oral promises should be written down.
  •  What is total cost and payment schedule, including enrollment fees and finance charges? Do some services cost extra?
  • How long is a membership term? A short-term membership is usually best in case you find yourself unmotivated or the club closes.
  • Does a three-day cancellation policy apply if you change your mind shortly after signing up?

 

Visit the club at the time of day you will use it. Talk to members and staff and determine the following:

  • Are the hours and location convenient?
  • Does the club have facilities and services that suit your needs?
  • Are the equipment, exercise areas, and locker rooms clean and well-maintained?
  • Is the facility overcrowded? Does the club limit new membership to prevent future crowding?
  • Is the atmosphere friendly?

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