Garage Door Repair Scams
By: Randy Oliver
As an independent, professional garage door dealer in San Antonio, Texas, I am very sensitive to consumer fears regarding unethical conduct of a few garage door repair services in my local market. As President of the International Door Association, I am also aware that this type of activity is occurring in most markets in the United States, including San Antonio.
We are seeing national television programs such as Dateline, Good Morning America and The Today Show, as well as local news teams across the country, revealing disturbing attempts to rip-off homeowners. These undercover reports, using hidden cameras and actors posing as homeowners, have shown repair persons attempting to charge hundreds of dollars for unnecessary repairs and replacement items, when the actual “problem” was no more than a deliberately misaligned photo sensor – the first thing a professional repair technician would see upon arriving on the property.
Typically, these scams are run through national call centers, which then dispatch an affiliated repair “technician” to the customer. In most cases, the unsuspecting customer thought they were calling a local company. Once the “technician” arrives, he identifies a wide array of problems associated with the door system. Typically, the repair tech will want to replace components that are not broken or in need of repair or replacement, i.e., rollers, drums, photo eyes, the opener, and so forth.
The companies that exploit unsuspecting homeowners by grossly overcharging for garage door repairs most often advertise as local companies. Some even advertise under names that are very close to the names of established, reputable, local garage door companies.
You can navigate around these disreputable enterprises by arming yourself with information. Here are some simple tips that will help you avoid being ripped off:
• Find out what a new garage door would cost. It’s quite easy to do if all you are looking for is a basis for what an ordinary replacement door would cost. If the repair estimate is higher than that, you know you have a better option. You may even decide you want a nicer, newer and safer door system once you see what’s available.
• When calling a local company, ask for a general estimate over the phone, if you can generally describe what’s wrong with your door. Also, ask for their physical address. Deal with companies that have a local presence, and not just a phone number.
• Look for the “IDA” logo, which indicates the company is a member of the International Door Association. All members of the IDA agree, as a basis for membership, to abide by a Code of Business Conduct that, among other things, prohibits any unethical activities in sales, installation or service.
• Look for “IDEA Accreditation” when selecting a repair service. This designation is the garage door dealers’ only independent, third party credential for companies that install, service and repair overhead garage doors. These accredited door dealers have been tested and proven to be knowledgeable of proper industry practices, guidelines, safety, and professionalism and must maintain continuing education to remain accredited.
• Use common sense. If you have broken spring, and your door was previously working perfectly well, does it make any sense for a repair person to then tell you multiple components on your door system are in need of replacement?
• Check references. Ask your neighbors who they might have used for garage door service in the past, and who treated them professionally and performed quality work at a fair price.
One cautionary note: broken springs are the most common reason for garage door repairs, as they should be. Springs are dangerous and should only be replaced by trained professionals. Many doors have dual torsion springs, which are mounted above the garage door opening. When one of these springs breaks, a good technician will advise replacing both springs, even though only one is broken. Most springs in residential applications have an anticipated cycle life of around 10,000 cycles, meaning 10,000 openings and closings of the door. Assuming both springs were installed at the same time, when one spring breaks, the other is likely to break in the near future. Replacing them both will save the homeowner a second service call.
But don’t let yourself get grossly overcharged for simple repairs on your garage door. If you still have questions, please feel free to visit the International Door Association at www.doors.org, or give Hollywood-Crawford Door Co. a call at 210-494-3434 or visit www.hollywoodcrawford.com and request a free, no obligation estimate or a free 50 point garage door and opener safety check in their normal service area which includes San Antonio, Boerne, New Braunfels, and Bulverde/Spring Branch.