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Warning About Chimney Sweep Con-Artists

Hang up the phone if you receive an unsolicited call from someone offering to perform a chimney cleaning; and here are some tips from the Department of Consumer Protection.

After receiving an unsolicited call at my home this week from someone offering to perform a chimney cleaning I want to remind residents to hang up the phone if you receive these types of calls, too.

The person on the other end of the phone tried to get me to think that I may have used his company before since he was a new employee. He offered to come out the very next day for the low price of $70. When I reminded him that I was on the "do not call" list he continued to try and sell me his bill of goods and became increasingly agitated."

Interestingly, the phone number on caller ID was a computer generated "Google" number and not connected to a real company. The person claimed to work for Lysco Corporation, which is licensed by the state of Connecticut (HIC.0631008) but has a New York address. However, they are rated "F" according to the Better Business Bureau

A quick Internet search shows that this company has had a lot of problems: here, here, here, here and here.

***

With winter on the way, I want to get the word out as quickly as possible to warn people not to fall for these type of bullies in person or on the phone.  

Here's some information from the Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection:

Repairs covered under the Home Improvement Law include everything from installation or repair of a chimney cap, liner replacement or repair, and even mortar replacement. 

  • NEVER hire a chimney sweep who shows up at your door uninvited. There are many home improvement scams that commonly take advantage of unsuspecting homeowners; fly-by-night chimney sweep scams is one of the most prevalent.
  • Be aware of telemarketing offers where someone offers you a very, very low price to come and clean your chimney. If someone is trying to get in at a very low price or is calling you out of the blue, they may just want to get their foot in the door, because they're really looking to do some type of repair work.
  • Some scammers provide photos they claim are from inside or outside your chimney, as evidence to convince you that your chimney needs repair. You have to be sure the photos are actually from your house. So any pictures that are provided to justify getting work done should include something in the photo or in the background that identifies it as your home.
  • Some scam artists show debris from a chimney as an indicator of something that's broken. If the company claims that this debris shows that your liner is broken or collapsed that you need a new liner system, get a second opinion, or have them show you where it is broken.
  • Be aware of attempts to frighten you. If you get the feeling that a salesperson or sweeper is using terms like carbon monoxide poisoning or house fire in a way that feels alarming, you should get another opinion. This could very well be a hard sell tactic. 
  • If you are being pushed to make an immediate decision, then make the decision to look for someone else.
  • Before hiring anyone to repair your chimney, ask to see their certificate and their identification. Feel free to contact the Department of Consumer Protection to verify the legitimacy of that certificate and to check on any complaints against this contractor.  Call the department at 860-713-6110 or  use the online license verification system.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Elisabeth Paredes October 07, 2011 at 03:30 PM
So happy to see this warning. We have received these calls in the past and the person also said they were calling for our annual cleaning and stated that we had used them before.
tim October 20, 2011 at 02:50 PM
Boy thanik God for Bob Duff..he takes care of us..over and over and over
Silvia Koslowski November 16, 2011 at 04:20 PM
I actually saw a few of their vans around my neighborhood in Branford. I called the number because I believed I needed a thorough cleaning of my chimney. I called the 877-730-5898 number and spoke with a very nice woman who gave me a great deal to have my fireplace and heating flue cleaned for $150. They came out promptly to my home and did an incredible job. The two men were very polite and kind and took their time cleaning everything for me. When my son came by a few weeks later I had him go up there and check to make sure everything was done right, and he said they did a fantastic job. In response to this post I would like to be open-minded and let everyone know that all companies have some problems, but out of all the bad comments there are always many good ones that come also.
EMR November 19, 2011 at 04:13 AM
Lets not forget about real estate agents raiding sellers medicine cabinets. That's another sham that should be communicated.

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