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Background

I just had a guy knock on my door to pitch me a quote to reseal my driveway. I need to get it resealed, so I listed to his pitch. He said he wouldn't charge me for materials because he is just going to throw away the sealant at the end of November.

That line smells a bit suspicious, but there is some legitimacy. From what I read 1 2, it is possible for the sealant to go bad in storage. So maybe he's telling the truth, that he just doesn't want to bother with storage. Although, I would expect disposal to be a pain for the contractor as well (assuming he disposes of it correctly)

This isn't the first time I've had a contractor tell me they'd give me a discount because they want to get rid of materials for the end of the season. I heard it once before from a gutter salesman, and an AC salesman too.

Question

Is the "I'm going to throw the materials away" claim legitimate in the driveway sealing business?

  • Not a great technique, IMO. I'm not signing up to have almost-expired sealant on my driveway, especially when labor is such a big part of the cost that they can "give away" materials. – JPhi1618 Oct 21 '15 at 18:53
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This is the setup for a classic scam. The offer might be legit, but that is really not the way to bet. Before pursuing this check with the police, BBB, att'y general's office, and past customers.

http://www.bbb.org/blog/2012/04/watch-out-for-paving-scams-this-spring/

[H]ere are a few red flags that you can look for in a driveway repair scam:

* The contractor says there are leftover materials from another 
job – Professional asphalt contractors know, with great accuracy,
how much paving material is needed to complete each project. 
Rarely will they have leftover material.

Scammers use this as a ploy to explain how they can provide you
with a huge discount over the normal price. The catch is that
they will ask you to pay everything upfront. The materials tend
to be inferior and the work ends up shoddy.

* Beware if you are pushed to make a quick decision – Trustworthy
contractors will provide a written estimate that will be valid
for days or weeks. It should specify in detail the work to be
performed and the total price.

* Be suspicious if you are asked to pay on in cash – Most 
reputable contractors will take checks or credit cards.

* Watch out for a company that is from out of state – Look at the
truck the representative travels in. If it is unmarked or has an
out-of-state license plate, be cautious. Even if the
representative claims to have a local phone number, scammers can
easily purchase disposable cell phones to provide a local number
in the area they are soliciting.

Or just websearch "driveway scam". Sometimes it's repaving, sometimes it's resealing, always it needs to be considered questionable. If an offer sounds too good to be true, it usually isn't true.

  • They gave me the address of a job they had just done in the neighborhood. Along with the customer's name. I could check with him, or just look at the work. – Walter Stabosz Oct 21 '15 at 22:09
  • Check, don't just look; you need to make sure it was done by the same people. Also, what you want is a reference frome someone who had it done several years ago, to find out whether it holds up. Frankly, I would not touch this unless I had confermation five ways from Sunday... at which point it's more trouble than the possible discount is worth Seriously, risk exceeds reward. – keshlam Oct 21 '15 at 23:11
  • @keshlam - Is your last sentence intentional? The usual idiom is "If an offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is". You seem to have negated that, which makes the last sentence out of kilter with the rest of your post. – AndyT Dec 21 '15 at 14:54
  • Unfortunately, "it" has a weak antecedant. Lemme fix that – keshlam Dec 21 '15 at 15:38
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I just had a guy knock on my door to pitch me a

Stop.

Most anyone selling something door-to-door today is a scam artist.

In the case of drive ways and home repair, this is a common scam of 'travelling contractors'. An example:

Investigators say such thieves often refer to themselves as “travelers” or “Irish travelers” and go door to door, offering to pave or seal driveways for a cheap price.

“The travelers will want payment up front and prefer cash but will often times accept a check,” police warned. “The travelers will tell the homeowners they have patch left over from a previous job. Most homeowners who hire the traveling workers experience shoddy work with substandard materials.”

Police say the thieves then cut contact, and the homeowners are unable to find them to get a refund or repair the job. Police say the scam artists cash the checks before victims are able to stop payments, normally using fictitious names or other people' names.

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