Hiring snow plow contractors: The do's and don'ts

Posted at: 10/30/2013 4:40 PM
Updated at: 10/30/2013 5:38 PM
By: Janet Lomax

A warning from the Better Business Bureau. When the snow starts to fly in western New York, be aware, you may run into some fly-by-night snow plow contractors.

The snow will be here before we know it. Last year, the Rochester area saw just under 100 inches. Snow removal service companies are already leaving flyers at home. If you're thinking about hiring one, the Better Business Bureau says now is the time to really pay attention to detail before the snow hits.

Dealing with snow is just part of everyday life when you live in the Rochester area. Rochester and surrounding towns have the big equipment to clear the roads, but to get to those roads, you have to get out of your driveway first and that can be a chore. You can either shovel, bring your snow blower out or hire someone else to do it.

If that's the route you're taking, News10NBC wants to help you hire the right person. The Better Business Bureau says most snow plow companies are reputable, but last season, it got 50 complaints about some that weren't.

Peggy Penders, of the Better Business Bureau, says pay attention and all of your expectation need to be spelled out.

Penders said, “You got to pay attention to how much snow will have to fall to prompt someone to come out and plow your driveway.”

Penders says make sure your contract has a start and end date.

Penders said, “Sometimes mother nature doesn't necessarily cooperate so you want to make sure you're covered all the say through whenever snow may fall, sometimes right into spring.”

Penders describes how one company was offering "too good to be true" prices.

Penders said, “That company had too many customers at the end of the day and wasn't able to service them all.”

Never pay the entire fee upfront.

Penders said, “The Better Business Bureau likes you to pay at least half upfront when it comes to snow removal and then another payment at a predetermined time.”

Penders says make sure you get a phone number. You want to be able to get ahold of your snow plow contractor and know they will be responsive to you.

They may be in a situation when they are coming at 8:00 a.m. and unfortunately, you've got to get out of your house in the middle of the night.

Here are some other tips from the Better Business Bureau. First, make sure the company you hire has personal experience in snow removal and discuss upfront what happens if a plow damages your lawn. The Better Business Bureau says if it is a serious issue, it may be something that comes under your homeowner's insurance.