Edited Transcript Series No. 5
[Dedicated to the Private Home Decision Makers of America]
“So, this corrupt couple would advertise online as residential contractors. Those residents who were uninformed about proper service validation protocol concerning contractors or too gullible to be responsible enough about collecting essential data and doing the necessary reputation check on them … would take the bait. Then these residents would blindly arrange an onsite visit and a walk-through or walk-around in the process.
[_ Once done, the dishonest impostors (the couple) often requested a 50% down payment towards the project. The residents granted it. The couple would then ceremoniously disappear into the darkness from whence they came without fulfilling a single promise.” _]
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R.B. Roberts – P.O. Box 66144 – Burien, WA 98166
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*Show Host: R.B. Roberts, National Spokesman – HGRBS
[This is the edited transcript of the BTR podcast episode of “ARE THEY WHOM THEY SAY THEY ARE … … OR SOMETHING ELSE? ” It was split into two parts, to be “aired” on separate Saturday evenings (July 9 -16, 2016, respectively. This is the original title.]
Show Page Intro
Thanks for your interest in what this is all about. If you are a private home decision maker residing in the U.S., this may be of more interest to you than you may suppose. If you have a few unresolved questions as to how you should go about scouting for, selecting, hiring, firing, and/or settling with contractors for your home projects, this is the place!
Presently, this show is the only of its kind on Blog Talk Radio. There will be more shows like this by other people in time. The reason is that this show incites it. Succinctly, you are actually engaged with a history-making process. This is readily documented since there is no BTR record of any other specific to addressing strategy and policy-related issues related to contract-related private home maintenance and improvement projects in America. Welcome to the future! Please, do not miss this episode!
Attention: Please, study both related episodes archived here on BTR for best results:
CONTRACTOR’S REQUEST FOR WORK SYSTEM [Now, the “HOME SERVICE VALIDATION SYSTEM”]
*Special note: This show, unlike most BTR shows, isn’t normally of a call-in nature. However, if there’s something you’d like to share or something you’d like for me to address on this show, please, feel completely free to email:
In this moment, we’re really going to focus our attentions on being ready, willing, and able to demand that contractors fully identify themselves. We can begin doing this by first asking them for their real names. Then ask to see the ID. What they say and what you read have got to be consistent otherwise please consider it your lucky moment since he lied to you from the word go. What you’ve just read neither sounds nor looks anything like what he just said his name was.
It just may serve you well to stop right there. Stop listening. Require no explanation. It follows, that if the person lied to you at the very beginning about his own name, it wasn’t an oversight. It shows intent towards dishonesty, and it would seem that if a person is so quick to lie to you about anything so important, it may be a great idea to take that as your signal to say no more. Listen to no. Ask him to leave without further discussion. And, it would probably be a good idea to head off at the pass any future episode of him ever asking to do work for you anymore. What you don’t need are any return visits from this person or any embellished future explanations as to why he lied in the first place. Better to be safe than sorry on the receiving end the bigger lie or a hefty helping of money-gouging, time-consuming sequels so akin to dishonest contractors.
So, to reiterate, we must insist on the contractor identifying himself first by what he says, then by what you see after asking to see his Driver’s License. Of course, there are other things you’ll need to see in terms of all the credentials contractors should have if they’re working in your particular area. But, in the meantime, for starters, you must know who he actually is, individually. Who was he before he became a contractor? Who was he before he even knew how to say “gim-mie.”
What was his name when he held that first dollar bill in his hand and learned how to say “mon-ney” before he even knew what the heck it was! Who is he? Who are they? Are they whom they say they are or something else?
I remember, not so long ago, there was another government-sponsored sting operation in California. These are normally orchestrated by its Contractors State License Board in cahoots with law enforcement. Together they constituent a statewide operation which targets illegitimate contractors in random areas of the state of California. This team is otherwise known as SWIFT. That’s of course, the notable acronym for Statewide Investigative Fraud Team. They’re very busy in California staging these sting operations against illegitimate contractors in various parts of the state. The government of California considers these illegitimates as an “underground economy.”
Of course, that’s their euphemism for people who potentially rip the state off for billions of dollars on an annual basis because they’re not paying their fare share of taxes for the right to do business in that state. The way this potentially plays out is that, if or when the government they’re stealing from experiences a noticeable shortfall in funds required for any number of public works projects, that’s interpreted as the government turning to taxpayers like you and I to make up the difference. Tax increases.
Illegitimate businesses, operating without paying their fare share of taxes, are one of the reasons for our taxes being eagle-eyed for increase. Yet, not only that, but when our governments are short on funds (whether locally or statewide) there are funds originally slated for other things redirected towards something else. This means that the funds for whatever those funds could’ve have been used for, are now delayed since now there’s not enough money to make “them” so. And, we can but a sizeable amount of that blame on this “underground economy” the government’s alluding to. Y’ see, even, non-government contracting, by itself, is a multi-billion dollar business. But you know something else? Illegitimate contractors represent a multi-billion-dollar industry within that multi-billion-dollar-non-government industry which isn’t even showing up on the books.
So, the next time you see someone without the right credentials trying to get work from you, please, bear in mind the fact that he’s part of the reason for any shortages we may have in public funding for your community as a whole. It would then follow, that since the likelihood of you getting ripped by an illegitimate contractor is a lot greater than if you selected someone you’ve thoroughly validated, then you’d not only be getting ripped as an individual, but as much, you’d be getting ripped as a community.
So, by all means, don’t just take the contractor’s word for it. Hand him that “SERVICE VALIDATION FORM” consistent with what I’ve outlined in previous episodes, have that contractor take it with him to fill out and to return after a 24-hour period has elapsed, and do the research. And, I assure you, when you do that, you’re going to find that a lot of the contractor’s who come to you for work or who advertise on the internet, aren’t at all what they seem to be. They’re something else. But that’s not the sort of something else that’s in, any shape, form, or fashion, in any good sense of the word!
You must know if they’re whom they say they are or something else.
That bust by SWIFT (mentioned earlier) in Cali netted 10 individuals. Four of those 10 were from a different state. Now, this is the short hand of what went down. The members of SWIFT set themselves up in a private single-family home in El Dorado County, California. El Dorado County is the home of Sacramento which happens to be the most popular city in that neck of the woods. And, like in any other popular city, contractors of all dispositions frequent the place in continuous droves. Orrr yeah, the good, the bad, and the ugly. It follows, the bigger and more popular the area, the greater and fiercer the competition; the higher the number of victims, and the quicker that victimization. They come from all over.
Just the same, the SWIFT agents encouraged contractors who were apparently under secret investigations to bid on work at this private single-family home in Sacramento. Selected agents posed as the actual private home decision makers. One after another after another these guys filed into the house, gave their bid for the home projects offered, but then, when another contingent of SWIFT agents swiftly appeared … … “Hey! Where’d they come from?!” Oh … just from another part of the house …., So, now, these illegitimate contractors had to also give these agents their time. But, of course, notwithstanding the fact that they wouldn’t be getting any luscious tax-free money in return.
Orrr well … SWIFT detained each of them long enough to learn who they really were and to give each a nice, swift kick to a court date. If they didn’t show, a warrant could very well be issued to their arrest. Whatever the case, they were looking at anywhere between jail time and/or thousands of dollars in fines
But then, hopefully, our focus is kept fresh seeing that the shenanigans of illegitimate contractors were still going on, as these guys were receiving their citations, and they were still going on, all over the country. So, this sort of predation plays on, and it could be knocking on your door or staring you square in the face as you’re surfing the net for contract help.
Is that online contractor referral service all it’s advertised to be? … … or something else? Please, allow me to share this story with you. We’re taking a trip to Chesapeake, VA where one fine couple hired on a contractor to build a synthetic decking system for them.
The couple went online to locate the ideal contractor to build a synthetic outdoor deck for them. They opted to do this through an online contractor’s referral service rather than to do this themselves or to at least delegate this sort of thing to a personal assistant with whom they could personally strategize about getting the ideal contractor.
Now, in two of my e-books “Power in the House! – T.S.E.,” and in “Power in the House! – M.S.E.,” I go into great detail about the fallacy of casting your cares on these online contractor referral operations.
The bottom line is that, generally speaking, these online contractor referral operations have no visual, audio, or any physical control over the contractors they refer. By and large, they’ve rarely (if ever) personally met with the contractors, themselves. The contractors pay them a resident finder’s fee, and the agency finds work for them in order to fill the order. So, primarily and apparently the emphasis of the contractor’s referral agency is to “fill the order.”
These online referral guys normally don’t know the contractor; they don’t know their habits; they don’t know if whether or not these contractors are reasonable gentleman with integrity or unreasonable, psychotic, pathological liars who don’t know or who may never know what integrity truly signifies.
So, this couple, being so well engaged with naivety, preferred not to do their own searching for and selecting of contractors; they preferred not to delegate these things to people who they could actually see or with people they could physically meet with. Instead, they preferred to listen to the voice of and to be charmed by an online contractor’s referral agent whom they apparently knew nothing about aside from the internet. He said, in so many diverse ways, that the contractors he preferred to recommend were credible.
Invariably, this couple was persuaded, perhaps strongly on that online referral agent’s advice, without personally meeting with him and discovering if even he was whom he says he is or something else. People normally don’t do their own research on these online contractor referral agencies. Many actually have no mailing address … … not even an e-mail address … just a form for you to fill out if you want to communicate with them. But, even that’s a story in itself which I’d rather forego for the moment because of time constraints.
This contractor referral guy refers them to their “magic contractor.” At least this is perhaps what it was for the residents who needed the work done. It was just like magic. You get on the ‘net, surf around for the sort of decking material you’ll need for the new deck or the first deck you’re going to build, then you search online for a contractor’s referral service which you believe has the scoop on the best contractors in your area, then presto!, alakazamo! – and all that stuff, then poof! Your contractor suddenly appears: “Your wish is my command!”
And so, the guy who appears at your door,then you give him shopping money for all the supplies, materials, accessories, and all the other goods you’re going to need. All you’ve got to do is write out the check, add your “power” signature, then hand it over! No problem. No pain. No gain. Orrr yeah. Effortlessly.
Well, that’s about how it went down for this wonderful duo. At least, that’s as far as the beginning is concerned. So, they finally met the well-recommended contractor. Well-recommended by the online contractor referral guy.
There were hearty and expansive “hello’s” since they were all so ecstatic about finally meeting!; so immersed were they in their private, personal jubilee that finally … … finally, their hero has arrived. Now, they’re finally going to get that wonderful, most amazing, pre-fab deck! … … water-proof, stain-resistant … fade resistant deck; that hallelujah deck replete with that all so coveted 25-year warranty! No chipping; no painting; no staining!
“O – Oh my goodness, honey! Oh Lord … finally we’re going to get the sort of deck we’ve always hoped for!”
“Yes. Darling. I’m so happy, I could scream … H’—H’”
“For sure, my good man and my good woman. I’m so ashamed of all this which you have bestowed upon me in these few moments. But, yes, yes, I confess that I’ve come to save the day and to save the night for many. Yes. I’m afraid so. It’s who I am. It’s what I do. Are you okay with starting out with a deposit of only Five Thousand-Dollars?”
And the fine couple gaze gently into each other’s twinkling eyes. And, but of course, they nod their heads.
“Okay. We’ll do it. So that’s only Five-Thousand-Dollars to get things underway?”
“Yes. Only Five-Thousand-Dollars. But, if that’s too much … …”
“Oh … Nooooo. That’s fine!”
That’s what was done. A check was effortlessly written out to the contractor for $5,000.00, and graciously handed over to him. The bulk of it was for him to go shopping for the synthetic parts and goods which would inevitably evolve into a most beautiful Trex deck. Huh!
The contractor cashed that check on the following day and they haven’t seen him around their home since. But nearly 4 months had gone by without a single call.
Now, here’s the strong ironics of the situation. It wasn’t until they were convinced that this guy (who was so greatly recommended by that online contractor’s referral operation) wasn’t coming back from the mall, that they decided to do the research. H’! Nearly 4 MONTHS LATER?!
They found that not only had this guy scandalized other residents, not only was this guy now also facing felony charges on something else, but he wasn’t even a licensed contractor! He was an illegitimate. The referral agency sent them a guy who really had no right doing home projects of this nature in the first place!
Everything you see isn’t always what they seem to be.
Are they whom they say they are or something else?
Y’ know something? I’ll bet that once you’ve got the “CONTRACTOR’S REQUEST FOR WORK SYSTEM”[Now the “SERVICE VALIDATION SYSTEM”] as your own personal protocol priority for selecting and hiring contractors, you’re going to have the right answer; you’re going to have the true answer; and I’ll guarantee that it won’t be coming from some online referral agency recommending illegitimates!
End of Part 1 – Continues to Part 2 – Conclusion … … Follows … … …
Part 2 – Conclusion
Hi! This is R.B., and for you who were here last Saturday evening for the first portion of this episode, “ARE THEY WHOM THEY ARE … … OR SOMETHING ELSE,” your presence is very much appreciated. If you weren’t here, your presence is very much appreciated, as well. In this moment, we’ll sort of pick it up from where we left off! [Salutation revised for this edited rendition]
I really didn’t think there’d be a sequel, but “Ooops!” … … here it is. I just didn’t feel enough was said in this regard in just that one moment. There was more I wanted to say, but the time constraints were such that I was unable to.
So, here, although I know enough really isn’t ever said since there’s always more, as in all great sharing of useful information, there’s always a satisfactory juncture for a reasonable closure. I didn’t feel that had been reached. It was like shutting it down at midstride. It hadn’t achieved to me its complete cycle. But, I assure you, in this sequel to that moment, it will; in this moment, I know that we’ll reach that point of closure on our most significant question:
ARE THEY WHOM THEY SAY THEY ARE … … OR SOMETHING ELSE?!
Now, let’s DO this!
We’re going to cover a less than legendary story with respect to another dynamic male and female duo (since there are quite a few) who were partners in crime using the internet as their springboard; then, we’re going to close this out with a word or two about self-accountability.
My sincerest hope and prayer for you in this moment is that even before we’re through, that you’ll have an even more solid commitment to yourself, to your family (as it applies), and to your home, about always doing the necessary research. The best sort of question to always ask and to adequately verify is this: ARE THEY WHOM THEY SAY THEY ARE … … OR SOMETHING ELSE?!
Now, let’s open with our incredible dynamic duo or with “The Adventures of the Contractors Who Never Were.”
But, of course, the average person wouldn’t know that about this scandalous couple if he or she really didn’t know what to look for. It’s apparent that this couple (doesn’t seem as though they were married) worked out a business gimmick premised on internet victimization.
What they would do is advertise contract services over the internet. Gullible people would respond to their ads, and make arrangements for work without having first met them. It’s apparent that this couple would use websites which offered free ads or special, low-budget advertising rates. Then they’d place ads without their contractor’s license numbers although the commercial code in many places requires them to do so. But then, if they’re unlicensed, they’re required to plainly state the fact in any advertisement they make.
But that’s not true in all places; that’s not true in all states. However, in states where this is applicable, it doesn’t matter from where the ad originated … it could have originated in Australia for all we know, if the people affected are in any of these states, then contractors can be charged (whether or not they live in any of them) with commercial code violations in advertising. Albeit that they’re somewhat immune if from where they launch the ads these commercial standards don’t exist, but let them set foot in any of our states where they do; let them do that, and you can be sure that they’ll be more than eligible for being charged with as many counts of deceptive advertising as they committed. Count on it.
“But a’hm from down unda’. Thaat’s whar ah did the aad-vataas-min”
“Oh cool. But cha know something, Mister Down Unda’? You’re here. It affected our residents, here. So surprise! You’re now down unda all over again. Isn’t that amazing!”
For sure, when it comes to states which have consumer-friendly standards such as these, when the ad affects our own citizens, then whoever placed it, from wherever they placed it, is cited under our rules. In such case, they’re held just as accountable as if their ad originated in our own states.
Now, I’m mentioning these things because our wonderful wayward couple apparently did quite a bit of advertising and corresponding from states other than the one in which they were in. Since, according to reports, the couple, by innuendo, were residents of the state of Texas, they’re noted to have scandalized residents of 5 different cities and towns of the state of Wisconsin, and there was one reported scam of private home residents in the state of Florida.
However, please, don’t take this to mean that in any way, I’m alluding to these internet bandits actually staging all operations out of the state of Texas. I just wanted to let you know that they were very busy scandalizing people in different states, which offenses originated with their false ads on the internet. It’s very probable that, since they were so highly mobile, and since today the internet can be accessed from practically anywhere, many of these ads could’ve been created in the states in which they orchestrated the offenses.
So, this corrupt couple would advertise online as residential contractors. Those residents who were uninformed about proper service validation protocol concerning contractors or too ambitious to be responsible enough about collecting essential data and doing through service validations on them … would take the bait. Then these residents would blindly arrange an onsite visit and a walk-through or walk-around in the process.
Once done, the dishonest impostors (the couple) often requested a 50% down payment towards the project. The residents granted it. The couple would then ceremoniously disappear into the darkness from whence they came without fulfilling a single promise. Of course, this account is consistent with the report on these offense which doesn’t state that they ever started any of the projects they promised to do. But, the reports clearly state that they took the money and didn’t fulfill a single promise made to the unsuspecting residents.
Now, this is classic to what I was alluding to last Saturday about doing business on the internet with self-professed contractors. The victims apparently didn’t know if they were whom they said they were. But, I’ll tell you one thing: they all knew in the end that they really weren’t whom they said they were. They were something else. They were a pair of corrupt individuals who were bent towards making residents proverbial fools for their money and suckers for the reliability of the internet for their home needs; they were crooked, money-hungry people with apparently no concern for the comfort and convenience of these residents nor for resulting misery that some are still experiencing because of this couple’s social deviance and apparent lack of support or concern for their physical health and well being.
Over and over and over again, our government and private advocates for the home often warn against this sort of reckless indulgence with the internet. Now, although the internet is an indispensably useful vehicle for all sorts of wonderful and incredible advantages, we often lose sight of the fact that there are also immense dangers. We sometimes get too loose about things, and allow our eyes and our minds to cause us to perceive things which aren’t there or to lend credibility to where there’s absolutely nothing but vulgarity and bottomless pits of missing information.
“Welcome to the World of Home Improvement Wonder. [_ Your search is over. We have no street address. We have no mailing address. But that’s okay. You can trust us. We’re not like the other guys. We’ll actually stop by and discuss with you your ideas for your project. Then we’ll ask for at least 50% up front to really get this baby, going. Okay? We’re the good guys. We’ll steal your money, and you can be sure that you’ll never see a single cent of that money ever again! So, how does that sound to you?” _]
“Oh… that sounds okay. Let me give you my address. I suspect you may be ‘something else” but that’s okay because I trust you…”
That’s about the size of these situations. This couple had no credible location address; no credible mailing address; no landline – just mobile phones. So, in the event you learned that they really weren’t whom they said they were (which, of course, they weren’t), you had no way of tracking them down and having them legally held accountable for the work they didn’t do or for the money they’ve technically stolen from you; since you can’t track them down, you can’t file any sort of credible complaint against them; you can’t file any credible lawsuit; and, you can’t put them out of business.
“ These guys took my money, but didn’t do any work. I want my money back. I’d like to file this complaint against these people. They’re crooked; they’re no good, and they should be made to pay for what they’ve done! Please, find them for me.”
“We’d like to help, but in order for us to do so, we need to know where they are.”
“Oh. No problem. They’re located on the internet.”
“Exactly, WHERE on the internet are they located?”
“Oh … They’re listed under the name ‘World of Home Improvement Wonder.’”
“Okay. We can check that now … …”
So, the representative of Consumer Affairs goes online. Cross-references the name “World of Home Improvement Wonder.” Bingo! The rep locates it. However, the ‘bongo’ of the situation is that, when the rep clicks on it, it reads:
‘PAGE NOT FOUND The requested page could not be found. To return to the homepage click _][_here’.”
Yeah … Y’ know something? That was part of their m.o. They’d set up a website, toss out the bait, and just let it set there on the internet (their fishing hole), then wait for another sucker for an easy way out of a responsible situation to take a bite. Inevitably, it happened. But then, after finally meeting the unfortunate resident, scheduling the project some ways out, on a set date, then collecting a 50% down payment, they’d apparently return to their hotel room, wipe their specific ad from all internet visibility, shut down and out the website (which they probably accessed for free through entering all the wrong information about who they actually were), then by the time the promised work was to be delivered, they didn’t even exist; they were nowhere to be found.
Not only did they give false names to their victims about who they were, individually, (a reason I mentioned the photo ID inquiry) but they also used a diversity of business names and different disposable websites to camouflage themselves which enabled them to continue their predations on different communities in different states. The report only mentions two states, but I’m confident that more will pop up.
On record, they used approximately 10, different illegitimate business names. And, it’s strongly apparent that none of these are in any government data banks legitimizing their existence; not with the Department of Revenue, or with Business & Professions, the Secretary of State, the Better Business Bureau, or with any private or governmental consumer agency.
What’s more, all their names represented a cross section of different professions, from tile work to painting, to computer work, to general remodeling. They apparently camped in at hotel rooms, set up their disposable websites, and preyed on the residents of those areas or they did it previous to even going to these areas and resorted to the hotel rooms to be in position to visit the homes of their unsuspecting victims within some pre-arranged time frame.
Were they whom they really said they were … … or something else?! You know it!
I guess now, after this bit of a morning wake up about the serious depth of contractor internet scandals, maybe now you’ll take more seriously your natural responsibility for doing the necessary research about contractors. And, as always, if you don’t have the time for doing this, delegate!
Now, just before we wrap things up, I’d really like to showcase something more of the amazing diligence of the government of California which is really a shining example of the sort of practical aggressive action against dishonest contractors which a sizeable number of states seem to lack. Lots of grandstanding, but hardly any substance in protecting and representing our private home decision makers. It is what it is.
This is from the California Business & Professional Code relative to contractors deceiving residents or misrepresenting themselves and their services to private home decision makers. We’re covering Section 7161 of the California Business & Professional Code, subsection (a) and (b). Here they are:
“It is a misdemeanor for any person to engage in any of the following acts, the commission of which shall be cause for disciplinary action against any licensee or applicant:
(a) Using false, misleading, or deceptive advertising as an inducement to enter into any contract for a work of improvement, including, but not limited to, any home improvement contract, whereby any member of the public may be misled or injured;
(b) Making any substantial misrepresentation in the procurement of a contract for a home improvement or other work of improvement or making any false promise of a character likely to influence, persuade, or induce any person to enter into the contract.”
And there it is. Now, for clarity’s sake, let’s not end this on the note that the government of Cali is the only with this sort of thing on the books. But, I’ve studied many, many cases in these nearly 7 1/2 years as a volunteer home projects consultant, and it seems as though Cali is the front runner when it comes to actually doing something in many areas just for our private home decision makers.
I also salute the recent activity made in Orange County, New York with their aggressive moves apparently first launched in 2016 with “Operation Claw Hammer” (Thereby adding new definition to the term “Hammertime!”)They stopped playing around. Now, they’re going after the guys who have and are ripping our private home decision makers in that part of our world.
New Jersey has already been in on the action. So have the states of Ohio and Maryland (I’ve missed a few others, of course). Yet, apparently, it’s unfortunate that many of the other guys aren’t so proactive about the situation as though there’s no need to be. Otherwise, we’d of read about it by now. They will have boast about it for sheer deterrent effect. They don’t show up. This, in spite of the fact that the monstrosities of dishonest contractors are rampant nationwide. It is what it is.
So, it’s up to you, where ever you are, to help your government make even more of an impact against these dishonest contractors prancing around like bandits with free license to deceive and to scandalize you, your family (as it applies), and to abuse your home and the acreage on which it rests.
In the meantime, let’s not put it all on sluggish government. Let’s put it all on ourselves; let’s put it all on our silence about these things; let’s put it all on our not using the government sources and resources available to us which are designed to enable you to avoid being another victim; let’s put it all on not utilizing the expertise and advice of our allies both government and private who are available to freely advise, consult, and support you as an American private home decision maker.
Essentially, if we expect our respective governments (all states included) to protect and to support us in this realm, we’ve got to do more to support our governments by using the services and information freely available to us, and by reporting when we’re scandalized, and by not trying to go it alone.
This is a team effort. You always win in this regard through this team effort through your working with allies both government and private to assist in your personal objectives towards sustaining and/or increasing the comforts and conveniences of your private home.
It begins with your concern, pursuit, and practice of asking this question and getting sound verified answers through doing the necessary research or an adequate service validation. This is the question, in duality: ARE THEY WHOM THEY SAY THEY ARE … … OR SOMETHING ELSE?!
As always, it’s a pleasure and a great honor serving you!
GOD BLESS YOU, YOUR FAMILY, & YOUR HOME!
Please, catch the show on Saturdays 9 PM (PST) – “Private Home Decision Makers U.S.A. – RB”
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Well ... ... Are they? Are the contractors who are competing for work in, on, or around your home whom they say they are ... ... or something else? These days, it is a lot more difficult to distinguish between allies and predators for your special home maintenance and improvement projects. Those looking to work on your property are a lot more sophisticated than they used to be. This is largely due to their access to a lot more information, a lot quicker than ever before thanks to advancements in technology. Our special emphasis here, of course, is for you to not become so absorbed with the speed at which you can obtain services by just the click of a few keys on your laptop, desktop, your tablet, and even your iPhone. More people are being scandalized by means of electronic access than at any other time in history. When you check the stats in this regard, you will see that there is no decrease in sight. The major reason is that with the increased speed for accessing services comes a comparable increase in consumers letting down our guards and allowing ourselves to become deluded into thinking that, on the overall, in spite of the risks for being personally scammed via cyberspace, that the risks are minimal by comparison to the benefits. Yet, in this moment, please, allow me to submit the fact that instead of risks being "minimized," they are "maximized." They are maximized because this is unfortunately the nature of the electronic culture we have evolved into. We have been involuntarily conditioned towards doing less practical thinking for ourselves synonymous to transferring much of our energies in that regard to the "conveniences" we perceive in allowing modern technology to do most of that for us. In general, we allow ourselves to rely more and more on doing "less thinking." This spills over into many of the practical issues of our lives. Foremost, for our purposes at hand, this spills over into how we make the most crucial decisions about the sort of people we are going to trust, select, and hire for our special home maintenance and improvement projects. Far too many of us are now turning to the "convenience" of online contractor referral services and to contractors who introduce their "worthiness" and "competence" without documented or provable evidence to that effect. Here, in "Are They Whom They Say They Are ... ... Or Something Else?," I will prove to you the stark danger entailed in on online contractor referral operations and online introduced "contractors" without first doing a though service validation or reputation check to ascertain if whether or not they are whom they are said to be or whom they say they are. The beginning and the end of your home project is not "online," instead, it is on your property. That is the point at which any contractor candidate who wants to work for you should be and at which he/she should submit to you crucial information for you to thoroughly validate. This includes validation of residential references along other information through conferring with private and government entities before coming to any decision. This is the safest, wisest, most reliable way to prove or disprove all claims made about a contractor's skills, integrity, and competence. Your home is "real space." Therefore, it is strongly recommended that any deals made be done with positively validated people in "real space" rather than in virtual space which is often the prime hub for "virtual contractors," and legally questionable "contractor referral agencies."