TOLEDO, OH (WTOL) - Many consumers complain a contractor they hired to fix their home ripped them off.

One Toledo family learned the hard way.

Lauri Shepler got a referral for kitchen renovations and put down the deposit the contractor said they required. However, she claims he never came back.

"He had scheduled three different times with us to come and perform the work and canceled every time with a different excuse," Shepler said.

The company came by referral from her husband's co-worker but they never got a contract and did not get any competing bids. They now say they regret it.

"You just want to make sure you always get everything in writing," Tene Jackson said with the Better Business Bureau. "That's one thing that always helps with complaints."

The BBB of Northwest Ohio says they handle more complaints about home contractors than almost anything else. Often it is about the quality of work.

Recently, they received numerous complaints of driveway contractors just showing up at the door to offer work.

"We'll have people who come in and say they have extra material left over from a job they've been doing," Jackson said. "They take an exorbitant amount of money and say ok we're going to go get our truck and come back, and never come back."

It is an expensive lesson you can avoid with a little detective work on your part.

Jackson says it's best to do your own homework:

  1. Check online and in person to confirm the company has a physical address.
  2. Check with your City to get proof of license and insurance.
  3. Get more than one bid for the work.
  4. Ask for references from customers.
  5. Do not pay 100 percent up front.

Many contractors require a quarter or a half of the amount up front for labor or materials. Some do not require payment until completion of the project.

The Better Business Bureau says if you get everything in writing, you have a better chance of getting your money back through the BBB or small claims court.

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