CHICAGO, IL - November 22, 2011 – As
temperatures drop, sitting by a toasty fire becomes more appealing. Consumers looking
to have their chimneys cleaned in preparation for the winter season need to be
diligent when researching companies to do the job. The Better Business Bureau (BBB)
advises consumers to know which businesses to trust and which to avoid so that
their hard earned dollars don’t go up in smoke.
“Having a chimney cleaned is not something homeowners deal
with often, so they may lack knowledge of the cleaning process,” said Steve J.
Bernas, president & CEO of Better Business Bureau serving Chicago
and northern Illinois.
“Many scammers take advantage of this and do shoddy work or suggest expensive
and unnecessary repairs.”
In some cases, consumers have reported calls stating the
town fire department recommends that resident’s chimneys be cleaned. The calls
go on to recommend a particular chimney sweep and endorse their services on
behalf of the fire department. Though town fire departments do recommend having
chimneys cleaned on an annual basis, they do not endorse any particular company
or inspect chimneys. Many scam artists are targeting the elderly, making vague,
unclear phone calls claiming they have done business in the past and it is time
for their annual sweep.
Typically, a professional chimney sweep will charge
between $150 and $200 for the cleaning of one chimney shaft, whereas scam
artists are charging as little as $50. The BBB advises that if a price sounds
too good to be true, it usually is and should be viewed as a red flag.
The BBB recommends that consumers:
out a chimney cleaner’s BBB Business Review at www.bbb.org Are they an Accredited Business?
Do they have any outstanding complaints?
the businesses history: How long have
they operated in your area? Ask for additional references and
if they have a valid business liability insurance policy. In the event of an accident, this
policy keeps your home and belongings safe.
For more information on finding businesses you can trust,
private, non-profit organization, the purpose of the Better Business Bureau is
to promote an ethical marketplace. BBBs help resolve buyer/seller complaints by
means of conciliation, mediation and arbitration. BBBs also review advertising
claims, online business practices and charitable organizations. BBBs develop
and issue reviews on businesses and nonprofit organizations and encourage
people to check out a company or charity before making a purchase or donation.