Unlicensed Mobile Home Repair Contractor Cited After Targeting Senior Citizens
Contractors Board Issues Advisory
STOCKTON — The Contractors State License Board (CSLB) issued an advisory to residents of senior mobile home parks after citing an unlicensed contractor for operating without a contractors license and for illegally using another's license. A-OK Mobile Home Service, which solicits senior citizens for "free safety inspections" on mobile homes, then enters into contracts for questionable work, has received complaints in the Sacramento and Stockton areas.
When interviewed by a CSLB investigator, the A-OK owner stated that his company works senior parks exclusively because family park residents don't have money. Once inside a senior's home, A-OK employees ask for an "in park" telephone directory to call other park residents and offer free inspections.
The CSLB strongly advises mobile homeowners to be wary of "free" inspections and not to give "in park" directories to contractors, solicitors, or repair people. Homeowners are also urged to check a contractor's license with the CSLB and verify that the license number, business name and address match with information given by the soliciting contractor.
Anyone performing contracting work that costs $500 or more (labor and materials) must be licensed by the CSLB. To become licensed, one must verify four years of experience in their trade, pass a two-part examination, post a license bond, and provide workers' compensation insurance for employees. Anyone can check the status of a contractor's license and order free publications, including "What Seniors Should Know Before Hiring a Contractor" at www.cslb.ca.gov.
The manager of a Stockton mobile home park called the CSLB to complain when he became suspicious of A-OK. The contractor's license number that company employees were using while doing repairs in his park belonged to someone else in another city, and A-OK did not have a license at all.
One 73-year-old Stockton widow, who suffers from memory loss, said that A-OK approached her and offered a free safety inspection. The contract stated that "complete under home adjustment, 3 ft of insulation around a rear air duct, new skirting on entire coach and 44 new standard jacks installed" would cost $4,000. The woman stated she was concerned about the large sum of money, but she believed it would be okay because the salesman was a "nice young man" and the business name was A-OK.
She stated she could not remember how long the company worked on her home, and she wasn't even sure if she had paid them any money.
The CSLB urges all consumers to follow these tips when hiring a contractor:
- Hire only licensed contractors
- Check the license with the CSLB at www.cslb.ca.gov or (800) 321-CSLB
- Get at least three bids and check references
- Get a written contract, and don't sign it until you understand the terms
- Don't pay more than 10 percent or $1,000, whichever is less, as a down payment
- Don't pay cash and don't let the payments get ahead of the work.
The Contractors State License Board operates under the umbrella of the California Department of Consumer Affairs. The CSLB licenses and regulates California's 278,000 contractors, and investigates 25,000 complaints against contractors annually.
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