How do I find out about the unhappy customers?

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Posted by: from Toronto
5/15/2015 at 1:18:42 PM

If I ask a company for references, I assume they're only going to give me the names of people they already know will speak good about them. What if there are dozens more unhappy customers, how do I find out about those?

I'm about to have a second storey addition put on my house and I want to do everything in my power to choose the right contractor. I'm afraid of trusting online reviews. What can I do to make sure the company I hire is qualified, insured, trustworthy, has never gone bankrupt, has not changed company names several times, has not had law suits against them, etc?

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Mark from CMJ Renovations in Oakville
Date/Time5/17/2015 at 8:44:35 AM

Hi Max,

The upset customer is very hard to find. When using Trustedpros we are reviewed by past clients and generally are very positive. When interviewing potential contractors ask them for 4 or 5 names of past clients who are not listed on their reviews. I once did a similar job in Burlington, the client called me out of the blue one day and asked to speak to me about my estimate and wanted to visit me on my current job. The client didn't want to speak to me but my current client and how the process was going. I also had another client ask for the names of my past 5 jobs and called every single one for references.

All I can tell you Max is do your homework. The best references are from friends who may have used someone for a similar project. Look for companies that have been around long term. Look for a contractor who is going to be on site everyday and not managing a bunch of kids on 2 or 3 sites and always use your gut, if you have any bad feelings look for someone else. Good Luck!



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Josephine from Mreno Properties Ltd. in Toronto
Date/Time5/17/2015 at 9:22:35 AM

Hi Max,

Do your do diligence when it comes to searching for the right contractor.

Always ask them to provided city of Toronto licences and make sure insurances is up todate. Going to a current job site is always a great way to see how they work. They should be able to offer you transparency and with that is the foundation of a great start to any renovation.

Good luck in your search !

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Date/Time5/17/2015 at 9:57:45 AM

Your right. There are a lot of questions and budgets you need to have prepared correctly for a big project. If your contractor is too cheap then expect to get what you paid for. If you do things the right way with the company you choose you shouldn't have a problem. 85-90% of the time contractors go wrong when they under budget the other 10-15% are just bad at what they do. I won't lie I've had an unhappy customer but I rectified their dispute. I could stil visit them today and they love me. You can never please everyone as well.

Just make sure you have an appropriate contract and breakdown of your responsibility and the contractors responsibility.

When your budget is correct and your contract is in place correct you shouldn't have problems. Go with your gut and who makes you feel comfortable as well. This isn't an easy business to be in and mistakes happen on job sites sometimes. As long as their rectified that's the main thing.

Have a paper trail to all the works needed and what you are paying for and what your not paying for. As for the unhappy customers and law suits and owning different companies I'm sure a good lawyer can do that for you. Mine can. Asking around as well or going direct to past jobs asking where the contractor lives. Someone who shows you their home is most likely not going to screw you.

Thanks hope some of this info helps. Try and be positive and hopefully your job goes great.

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Date/Time5/17/2015 at 10:35:03 AM

Hi Max,

Yes, it is difficult to find unhappy clients. there should be a site they can post on. However the site should be sure to check that the posts are legit. Or you will have contractors taking people and the site to court.

All I can tell you is talk to known contractors. Get a number of references and call the people. Spend some time with the contractor and see what your gut tells you.

Set out the contract in stages and applicable payments as each stage progresses.

Shame I moved away from the GTA three years ago to the Niagara Region. Or I would be happy to take care of the reno for you. And you would have no worries.

Good luck and enjoy the addition.


James Fram

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Date/Time5/17/2015 at 6:49:55 PM

It's very simple, call the customers, go on their house and check by yourself the job done by the contractor. Ask for before and after pictures, simple things like that.

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Brian from Cedarland Inc. in Burlington
Date/Time5/18/2015 at 2:03:01 PM

Hi Max,

In addition to reading customer reviews, absolutely follow up by contacting references. Ask the references how the company was about keeping timelines, staying on budget, and how flexible they were when it came to working with them as customers. Find out if any of their pictures are posted online so that you can get an idea of the scope of work done. Have they done more than one job for this customer? Have they been happy to refer them? These are some great indicators. Also, ask the company for their WSIB, licensing and insurance information.

Hope this helps!


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