Pavement peddlers: Cheap asphalt usually too good to be true

Spring yard work season is upon us and if the price of a door-to-door driveway repair sounds too good to be true, Alberta RCMP said it probably is.

RCMP have issued several warnings this past week on a well-known scam that is popping up in the Edmonton area, as well as in northwestern Alberta.

On Thursday, Fort Saskatchewan RCMP received reports of a paving scam in which the suspect offers to fill your driveway potholes with extra asphalt or pave it for a bargain and asks for money up front, then is never seen again.

The warning from Fort Saskatchewan comes a few days after Morinville RCMP issued a similar warning to rural residents in Sturgeon County.

Police believe a rental vehicle is being used to escape detection. A black Dodge Ram pick up truck may be associated with the scam, RCMP said this week.

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People who live in rural areas surrounding Edmonton are encouraged to call their local RCMP with information, including video surveillance that will help identify the person(s) responsible.

Click to play video: 'Driveway scam: They dig before you agree'

Driveway scam: They dig before you agree

Paving issues are also being reported in northern Alberta’s Grande Prairie region, RCMP said on Thursday.

Beaverlodge RCMP are investigating after receiving a report on April 14 from an area resident who hired a company to pave their driveway and said they were sent a bill well in excess of what was agreed upon.

In some cases, people are just out money — but in others, they are also left to repair shoddy work.

In some scams, RCMP say “contractors” show up at your home claiming to have leftover materials from previous jobs in the aea and offer to pave driveways and parking lots at reduced pricing, at that moment. They can employ high-pressure sale tactics.

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Police said fraudsters may use business names that suggest they are affiliated with a government road maintenance department and typically provide false addresses or contact information.

After the “contractor” collect payment and disappear from the area, customers discover the materials used are poor quality and the work is unprofessional.

Click to play video: '‘They seemed legitimate enough:’ Contractor scams senior citizen'

‘They seemed legitimate enough:’ Contractor scams senior citizen

In some past instances, the RCMP said the product used is believed to be cold, recycled asphalt or a gravel and oil mixture with no lasting properties. This results in the driveway surface falling apart once it is driven on.

By that time, the fraudsters are long gone, disappearing with their payment before the customer realizes they have been scammed, and left with expensive asphalt repairs.

Typical things to look for in this type of scam:

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  • Suspects come to your home saying they have extra materials from a paving job nearby
  • Their equipment and company vehicles have limited to no company details
  • Providing a business card with only a first name
  • The suspects will either take money ad not start the job, or demand money well in excess of the original agreed upon amount and threaten legal action

Some tips police have issued in recent years include:

  • Ask for names of previous customers and verify that they were satisfied with the work.
  • Research the company through the Better Business Bureau in Alberta, the Consumer Investigations Unit, your local Rural Crime Watch, or on social media.
  • Obtain a written quote that includes the full business name, address, phone number, GST number, as well as provincial and municipal license numbers, if applicable.
  • Quotes should specify the quantity and quality of materials being offered. Be skeptical if contractors decline to provide this information.
  • Seek estimates from reputable companies to compare costs.
  • Do not agree to a contract if you feel pressured or if the contractor refuses to take “no” for an answer.
  • Be leery of unsolicited offers. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is

Read more: Identifying paving scams in Saskatchewan

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