This winter, don’t get left out in the cold…

This winter, don’t get left out in the cold…

With the cold weather slowly setting in, the Putnam County Office of Consumer Affairs would like to remind you to use licensed and registered tradesmen for all of your home repairs.

All too often, especially during the winter months, Consumer Affairs receives complaints from residents regarding sub-standard work performed by unlicensed or unregistered tradesmen, on boilers and other heating systems.

When it is cold outside, and the heat goes out, consumers tend to look for a quick, economical solution and many are forced to agree to repairs, not knowing anything about heating systems. Consumers have to trust that the technician is telling them the truth and most times, the consumer doesn’t have time to get a second opinion or doesn’t have the luxury of shopping around.  Often times, consumers end up looking at price and availability as top priorities for hiring servicemen. Also, consumers forget to get written estimates and signed contracts. Finally, at the urging of the repairman, consumers are tempted to save money by paying cash up front.

While entering into service work agreements can seem like a good idea at the time, the Office of Consumer Affairs asks consumers to consider this:  When you hire a Putnam County licensed/registered tradesman, know that the person you are hiring is insured and bonded and had to go through the rigors of becoming licensed, including in most cases, testing to verify they are qualified to perform trade-specific work.  Through this process, the licensed tradesman is invested in his commitment to the residents of Putnam County.   And while there is no guarantee that all jobs will go off without a hitch, if something does go wrong, in many cases, the Office of Consumer Affairs can assist the consumer in finding a resolution.

When consumers do not get a signed contract for proposed work or fall into the trap of paying cash up front as a means of saving money, they enter into a he said/she said situation. Consequently, should problems arise, consumers have no proof of either agreements for work or payments made.

Therefore, the Office of Consumer Affairs’ recommendation to all homeowners, aside from keeping warm this winter, is to always ask if a tradesman is licensed/registered in Putnam County. If the answer is yes, ask to see the license. Each tradesman is given an identification card complete with photo. Ask for written estimates and get signed contracts. If paying cash, get a signed receipt for payments made. Hopefully this advice will help to keep our community safe, warm, and scam free this winter.

For questions or concerns, or for a complete listing of Putnam County licensed tradesmen,  contact the Putnam County Department of Consumer Affairs at (845) 808-1617 or visit our website at www.putnamcountyny.com/consumer-affairs.