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How honest are garage door repairmen?
The Rossen Reports team conducted a hidden-camera investigation at a suburban home in Cross River, New York. The home included a garage with a door in good operating condition, as verified by two independent, certified experts who inspected it from top to bottom: Andy Pomroy of Windsor Door Sales, Inc., in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Mark McManus of Door Boy in Berkeley Heights, New Jersey.
Then they rigged the garage door with a small problem. "We're just going to loosen the bolt on this sensor and anchor it downward so it becomes inoperable," McManus explained. He estimated that a qualified repairman would require "about a minute" to remedy the issue.
Equipped with a hidden camera, the homeowner called repair companies to see to the garage, which was rigged with additional hidden cameras.
The first repairman to arrive took less than 25 seconds to fix the sensor. He charged a service fee of $80 and went on his way.
But the results were different when a pair of repairmen showed up next. They told the homeowner she needed brand-new sensors, even though all they needed to do was tighten the bolt on the old one. They charged the homeowner $210.
At that point Jeff Rossen revealed himself to the repairmen as an NBC News correspondent. They denied trying to rip the homeowner off and drove away. Later, their company sent NBC News a statement saying they had a "flawless customer service record" and that "on issues concerning sensors which involve safety, we dispatch installation experts who are trained to change equipment."
The next repairman didn't even inspect the door sensor before telling the homeowner: "The sensor's no good." His price to replace it: $410.
"Why were you going to charge her over $400 for a new sensor when it's not even broken?" Rossen later asked the repairman. "You didn't even check it." The repairman responded by leaving the scene in his truck.
The last repairman wanted to replace not only the sensors, but the garage door pulleys as well. He charged the homeowner $683, plus tax. "Why are you charging this homeowner over $700 for parts she doesn't need?" Rossen asked him after revealing himself.
"Well, I'm trying to do a much better job and she does need it," the repairman replied. "There's no grease within those pulleys. I hear them clicking."
But when Pomroy and McManus showed him that the pulleys were in good working order, he admitted: "We all make mistakes." He also asked Rossen: "You're not mad at me or anything, are you?"
Of the four repair companies that came to fix the door, three charged for parts that were not needed, according to Pomroy and McManus.
To protect yourself when you need garage door repair:
- Always check to see if the repairmen have signage on their vehicle. (None of the companies in this report — even the one that did a good job — had any marking on their trucks.)
- Try to get recommendations from friends and family who have had similar repairs done.
- Check with your local consumer affairs office to make sure the company you hire is licensed.
To suggest a topic for an upcoming edition of Rossen Reports, email us.