Those of you who live in snow-pelted areas know that it is imperative to clear snow from roofs before spring drags in the rain. Clogged gutters are not fun to deal with. Neither is price-gouging. So pay attention to Governor Malloy of Connecticut this season: don't overpay contractors who clear snow from roofs.
Price gouging is when a business takes advantage of disasters or other emergencies by skyrocketing prices of necessary goods and services. It is essentially profiting on a person's or community's vulnerability, which is why it is considered illegal. Most anti-price gouging laws require that there be a connection between the good and its cost, or in the case of those who clear snow from roofs, labor and its cost.
"There has to be a reasonable basis between the size of the roof, the time involved in removing the snow, and a comparable ascertainable hourly rate," Connecticut's Consumer Protection Commissioner, Jerry Farrell, Jr. told the Hartford Courant.
It may be difficult for a consumer to determine a reasonable price, which is why it's important to contact a few contractors for a quote, and to ask around amongst friends and family.
In times of emergency, or when you have a break in the weather, it's often necessary to have a service performed immediately. It's also likely that contractors will be extremely busy. However, it's important not to allow the time crunch to rob you of your rights.
Sign a contract. And if the contractor doesn't have one handy, write down the basic terms of your agreement and have him sign it. The last thing anyone needs is a $500 job turning into a $1000 job.