Solicitors scour neighborhood after hail storm

By Amy Davis - Reporter/Consumer Expert

HOUSTON - Residents in one neighborhood are sick and tired of solicitors targeting them.

Homeowners in the Summer Wood subdivision emailed KPRC Local 2, fed up with the incessant knocks on their door. They had a hail storm in February and they said the first roofer showed up just a few hours later.

Roofing contractor signs from more than 10 different companies are littering the front lawns in Summer Wood. Contractors' trucks drive by about every minute.

"Different roofing companies just passing by, you know, up and down the street," said Raymond Jefferson.

Richard Massimino said employees with two different roofing companies came to his door.

"They started 6 o'clock in the morning," said Frank VanBentem.

Davis stopped one of the trucks to ask the worker about all of the signs and traffic in the neighborhood.

"We have access to technology that lets us know, as professionals, that there has been a hail storm in the area," said the man.

There is nothing illegal about roofers soliciting business at your door. KPRC Local 2 is not revealing company names because we there's no evidence the companies soliciting in Summer Wood are doing anything wrong. Still, industry insiders said homeowners should be wary.

"A knock at the door, an unsolicited knock at the door, should be a red flag," cautioned Jim Hardwick of Ideal Roofing.

Hardwick said his company will only come out when you call them. He said door-to-door solicitations can get homeowners caught up in all sorts of problems, starting with the insurance claim solicitors ask them to file.

"What they don't tell you is you now have a claim," Hardwick explained. "You're paying for it even if there is no damage because now you have a claim on your insurance."

"You got to put your brakes on," said Dan Parsons of the Houston Better Business Bureau.

Parsons said homeowners shouldn't be rushed into an inspection or repairs.

"Unless you have water dribbling down your 18th-century painting, you have time to figure this out and do it intelligently," he said.

If a homeowner thinks they have damage, the first call should be to their insurance company. The company will send an inspector to their home to check for damage. The insurance company may recommend roofers for the job, but it is entirely the homeowner's choice which company to hire.

It is against the law for a roofer to tell a homeowner they will waive or pay their deductible. Some companies may ask a homeowner to sign a contingency contract that basically obligates them to hire that company if the claim is approved. If a homeowner decides they want to hire someone else, they may have to pay a big penalty. It's why homeowners should avoid signing any paperwork until they have done their homework.

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