BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Every year it seems Call 4 Action gets calls from homeowners who have been ripped off by their snow plow service.
This year, before you shell out any money, here is some expert advice. For starters, a reputable service can cost between $250-$400 for the season, and sidewalks are generally extra.
If you go for a provider who seems to be offering a bargain, you may find the job doesn’t get done. Two years ago, it was Extreme Snowplowing of Rochester was taken to court by the Attorney General after leaving hundreds of Western New Yorkers holding the bag.
While flyers advertising snow plow services – also known as slingers – might seem like a good deal, you’ve really got to do your homework to avoid getting ripped off.
Peggy Penders of the Better Business Bureau said, “You certainly want to hire someone that you know and trust, and has the proper permits, insurance, licensing. You want to check with your local municipality and make sure that they have all of this documentation.”
Penders says there are several ways you can protect yourself from a snow removal nightmare this winter. We picked the top 4:
- Make sure you get at least three estimates from reputable snow removal contractors.
- If your local town or village requires a snowplow permit, make sure the contractor has one.
- Get the contract in writing.
- If possible pay by credit card or check. Never pay by cash, and never pay the whole contract up front.
Town of Amherst Clerk Marjory Jaeger says if you want to know if a snowplow operator has a permit, check for a sticker, which requires the contractor to have insurance and pay a $15 fee. The town has already issued 230 permits.
“If there is a problem with a plow service, or a truck, and they are displaying that permit in the windshield, that person can then come back to Town Hall, and we can find out who the operator was,” Jaeger explained.
While there are no guarantees you won’t get ripped off, those safeguards cover the biggest complaints we get each year.
Aside from Amherst, other towns, including Tonawanda and Cheektowaga, require snow plow permits. If local officials get enough complaints about a service, they can take action against the operator’s permit.
But generally, the homeowner would have to file a complaint with police.