We’ve all seen ads on television, in the newspaper, and in those flyers that constantly show up at our front door or in our mailbox. But, have you ever stopped to read the fine print on these “special offers”? If you have, you probably recognize that once you get past all of exceptions and disclaimers, they aren’t really all that special after all.
For instance, I’m sure you’re familiar with a large local flooring company that advertises something like “buy one room of flooring, get the rest free” and other such “offers”. When we were planning to replace the carpet in our basement, which includes a large family room and a bedroom, with a hallway between, we decided to check out this company. Funny thing is, the offer was only good on very specific products, none of which came close to what we wanted. We went ahead and got a quote for the carpet we wanted, including a thicker pad (because it’s over a concrete floor), plus installation. Then we went to another local flooring company – small, family owned, been around for years. Imagine our surprise, given all the hype, that the total price the smaller company offered was considerable less than the big guys with their “special”. In addition, they were able to deliver and install within our timeframe, rather than making us wait for special order material. Needless to say, we went with the smaller company, and we couldn’t have been happier!
If a contractor is going out of their way to trick you into calling them for a quote, if they are hiding the true facts of their business from their initial contact with you, what makes you think they are going to be honest and up front in any of their dealings with you? Once again, I will refer you to the Better Business Bureau and even the Federal Trade Commission regarding misleading advertising. There are a number of major companies out there that have hundreds of complaints filed against them because they make “offers” that have so many exceptions to them that they are impossible to qualify for.
That isn’t to say that there are not legitimate offers out there. Many contractors do have true discounts, particularly in a tough market. They may offer special pricing on certain products, or free upgrades (such as better glass options), but they are able to do this because they have made a special arrangement with a vendor, and for a limited period of time. They do not have a series of “free” offers that they are constantly advertising. If they offer it all the time, it’s not a special!
You used to see “going out of business” signs on the same business over and over, and they never really went out of business. It was a scam, and the laws were finally changed to put a stop to it. Personally, I think it’s time to crack down on these “special” offers that some companies run all the time. If there are not laws in place now, they need to be enacted. And, if the laws are already there, they need to be enforced. But, the only way that can happen is if you report false claims when you see them. Call your State’s Attorney, report them to the Better Business Bureau, whatever it takes to get action.
In the meantime, “Caveat Emptor” (that’s “let the buyer beware” in Latin, which tells you this problem has been around for a long time!). If an offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is. After all, you get what you pay for, and it’s certainly no deal if you have to jump through hoops to qualify!