49°F
weather icon Mostly Cloudy

‘Sure, I can fix that for you’ scams

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. I am a technophobe.

If it’s got a power source or an electrical plug, I get confused opening the box.

This very critical mental block extends to far less serious things, such as routine oil changes and air conditioner recharges.

The elderly and businessmen with manicured nails and wearing Ralph Lauren suits are easy targets for less-than-honest repair facilities.

Seniors make great targets, too, and bubble-headed blondes who routinely use words like “thingamajiggie” “whoozayoucal it,” and “clunk, clunk noises.” (In fact, females in general.)

Are there repair facility frauds out there? Unfortunately, the answer is a resounding, yes.

Do too many people allow scammers wearing repairman clothes into their homes? Again, same answer.

Here are some hints to help you avoid the bad guys.

VEHICLES

1.If the vehicle is still running, always get a second opinion/estimate. (A third if necessary.)

2. When you go into a shop for “routine maintenance service,” unless you know the shop well, be very careful. Some unscrupulous shops will actually set another part up for wear, tear or damage while they are doing the “free” inspection on your car. The intent is to make you happy that you are getting something “free,” then grab your return business four weeks later when you hear a “clunk, clunk, clunk.”

3. Oil change coupons? You walk in with a $23.99 “deal” and walk out with a $63 charge on your credit card. It’s up-selling at is worst. Better grade oil? A charge for the rags used? Topping off fluids?

4. Air conditioning repair. It’s uncomfortable when the AC quits in 115-degree weather. You might need a recharge of the Freon ($125?) — and end up with an $800 job after listening to a quick-talking “your car is about to explode” bunch of scary mumbo jumbo.

HOME REPAIRS

1. Avoid a door knock from a stranger who just happens to have extra material left over from another job and will give you a “deal.”

2. Watch out for generally phrased coupons. Agree on a final price BEFORE the job begins — in writing.

3. Understand that a new business can pay to join the BBB, so never rely too much on paid affiliation endorsements. An endorsement/approval from a known company, e.g. Maytag or Westinghouse, means so much more.

4. Know up front exactly what products (brands and quality) will be used to do your job. In writing.

5. See #4 under vehicles. If it’s your house, that $800 can turn into $3,000.

It all boils down to doing your homework, knowing who you are dealing with, checking out the contractor or mechanic, obtaining the quote in writing before the job is authorized and understanding “There Ain’t No Such Thing As a Free Lunch.”

If you still believe you were scammed, make a report. Me? I prefer the Consumer Protection Bureau as well as online forums.

Drop by the Pahrump Valley Times offices, 2160 E. Calvada Blvd., for a copy of Leslie Kim’s latest book “123 Main Street … the Scamming of America.” Only $19.95 while supplies last.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
THE LATEST
ICYMI: See photos from the Community Christmas Tree lighting

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, with the holidays officially in full-swing and the community ready to embrace all of the jolliness that the season brings.

Nascar tickets up for grabs at Bowl-A-Thon

This Sunday, the Pahrump Nugget Bowling Center will be taken over by supporters of America’s heroes during the Wounded Warriors Bowl-A-Thon and event organizer Denise Flanagan is excited to announce the addition of an extraordinarily generous donation to the cause.

Bowl-A-Thon to benefit Wounded Warriors

Hosted by local veteran Denise Flanagan, all of the money raised at the Bowl-A-Thon will be donated to Wounded Warrior Project, an organization that supports veterans.

PHOTOS: Quilts of Valor

Comfort and healing bestowed upon local veterans.

Beatty to add fire hydrants

BEATTY — Some areas here will be safer thanks to the decision of the Beatty Town Advisory Board to fund new fire hydrants in three locations in town. The new hydrants will be located in the general areas of North C Avenue and West North Avenue, North E Avenue and West Lisle Avenue, and South B Avenue and West Crowell Avenue.

PHOTOS: Retired military honored on Veterans Day

Here in the Pahrump Valley, where thousands of former military service members call home, Veterans Day is always marked with proper ceremony thanks to the efforts of local veterans’ groups.