STUDIO CITY (KCAL9) — Looking to update your home? Be sure to avoid getting ripped off!

Chief Marketing Officer and Founder of Angie’s List, Angie Hicks, stopped by KCAL9 Tuesday to share the top four home scans and discuss how to avoid getting taken advantage of!

The top home improvement “bargains” that often cost consumers much more time, money and trouble:

Carpet installation

•             Common complaints: Consumers report being billed extra for costs that weren’t revealed prior to the purchase; overcharged for carpet they didn’t need; and installers, subcontracted out by the carpet retailer, who did substandard work.

•             Red flags: Consumers who reported being scammed often had responded to fliers and advertisements offering whole-house carpet installation from as low as $30, provided they purchased the carpet from the advertiser. Only after buying the carpet, did customers learn of extra charges, including measuring the carpet, moving furniture, removing and hauling away the original carpet.

•             What you should pay: At least $300 for an average-sized single family home.

•             How to avoid the scam: Don’t fall for unbelievable prices. Look for companies with a good local reputation and fully discuss the terms of the deal before you sign anything.

Home alarms

•             Common complaints: Consumers report high pressure, aggressive scare tactics from sales people who often insist on long-term monitoring contracts. Often these techniques are practiced by companies who don’t properly install the systems they sell.

•             Red flags: Salespeople who intimidate or pressure you into a quick decision, most often including warnings about how your family is in danger because of recent burglaries that can be addressed if you act right now. Sales people who can’t explain how the system works.

•             What you should pay: $100 to more than $1,000, depending on the complexity of the system. Monthly monitoring fees average between $20 and $50, depending on the level of service options.

•             How to avoid the scam: Don’t fall for unsolicited sales gimmicks. Thoroughly research local alarm companies to learn about the home security systems they offer and how they work.

Air Duct Cleaning

•             Common complaints: A low, low price and startling information on the dangers your duct work pose to you and your family.

•             Red flags: Companies that claim they can clean your ducts in under an hour with only one worker. Companies that use inferior equipment, like a shop vac. Companies that use scare tactics, including saying you have mold and they can remediate it for several hundred dollars or more.

•             What you should pay: About $400 or more, depending on the size of your home.

•             How to avoid the scam: This is a job that takes several hours to accomplish well, requires more than one worker and involves costly, specialized equipment. Check out an air duct cleaning company’s reputation before you hire and thoroughly read the fine print for any coupon offers.

Moving Services

•             Common complaints: Having belongings held hostage as movers argue over charges owed, which often add up quickly and end up much higher than the consumer expected.

•             Red flags: An unmarked truck, dirty packaging materials, and employees without uniforms. Reputable movers do not require large deposits to “hold the dates” or “ensure prompt service.” They also do not require you to pay in advance. Payment is due on delivery. Reputable companies charge by weight and distance.

•             What you should pay: Several hundred to several thousand, depending on the distance of the move; the number and size of the belongings; if the movers pack and unpack belongings, or assemble and disassemble furniture.

•             How to avoid the scam: Do your research on local moving companies and check the U.S. Department of Transportation number on the vehicle. Insist on an in-home estimate, well before moving day. Don’t hire without a contract or proof of insurance. Read and understand the fine print of your contract and fully discuss exactly how charges are assessed. Also be sure you understand how damages are assessed and paid for. Never sign any paperwork the movers hand you after unloading until you’re sure there’s nothing missing or damaged.

For more information, visit Angie Hicks’ website.


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