Better Business Bureau: Check landscaper's history before hiring
By Tracy Bracy
April 28, 2014 at 3:03 p.m.
Updated April 27, 2014 at 11:28 p.m.
By Tracy Bracy
For those who lack a green thumb, hiring a lawn care service or landscaper can ease the burden of beautifying your own yard.
But the Better Business Bureau advises consumers to get clear, written expectations for what services the company will provide and agree on a fee before work starts. Otherwise, dreams of a green wonderland could quickly turn into a brown wasteland. Be sure to ask for a lawn inspection and free estimate.
Lawn care companies that quote a price without seeing your lawn may not give you an accurate estimate. A company should be willing to visit your home to provide you with an agreed-upon fee. Check a company's bureau review at CheckBBB.org.
Don't get burned by summer travel scams
A travel agency can make the process of booking your summer vacation quick and easy, but choosing the wrong agency can turn your vacation into a nightmare. In 2013, the bureau received more than 9,000 complaints nationally against travel agencies and bureaus. Most complaints say consumers felt misled by travel offers that failed to deliver on promises. Even worse, some paid money for travel arrangements that were never made.
The bureau advises consumers to check local business reviews on BBB.org before booking your trip. When signing a contract, be sure to get all vacation details in writing, verify reservations and pay with a credit card. It's important to be on the alert for travel scams promising too-good-to-be-true offers like free trips or cruises.
Find the right summer camp
Summer is right around the corner. Have you decided where your child is going to go for camp? The bureau has tips and business reviews that can help parents find camps that will provide safe, rewarding experiences for children.
When choosing a camp, parents need to use the same care and common sense they would use in evaluating a day care program. They should look for a camp that provides activities that are of interest to their child and appropriate for the child's age and skill level.
Parents should ask how long a camp has been in business and check with parents of past and returning students. Check the bureau's website, BBB.org, for the camp's record on handling complaints. The standards for day and overnight camps may be different, but each should have your child's safety and well-being as its top priority.
Email inbox scam
The bureau warns of a new way thieves are trying to get your personal information. There have been reports of consumers receiving an email stating, "Your mailbox has exceeded the storage limit. You may not be able to send or receive new emails until you re-evaluate your mailbox. Please enter your username and password in the column given below."
Incidentally, the email also asks for your birth date, which has nothing to do with your email storage limit and everything to do with possible identity theft.
Keep in mind that giving out usernames and passwords may provide access to get into your accounts. The bureau reminds you to be cautious before giving any personal information in an email message.
Tracy Bracy is the regional director of the Better Business Bureau for Corpus Christi/Victoria. Contact her by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.