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Hiring a Snow Removal Contractor - BBB Industry Tips

The BBB receives hundreds of complaints every year about snow removal contractors not complying with their agreements. Here are some BBB tips for hiring contractors.

The Better Business Bureau of Eastern Michigan receives hundreds of complaints every year about snow removal contractors not complying with their agreements. If you plan on hiring a snow removal contractor instead of shoveling yourself, the Better Business Bureau recommends the following:

  • Get several estimates. Prices can vary widely and are usually based on the amount of work involved in clearing your property. Remember that the least expensive estimate is not always the best choice.
  • Ask the contractor about additional charges and price options. Beside the quoted price, there may be some additional charges during large storms.
  • After the snow reaches a certain depth, some snow removal contractors charge by the inch, so you’ll want to find out how the company calculates these charges. Other contractors may offer a fixed price for an entire season, regardless of the amount of snow (or lack of snow).
  1. Make sure that you are aware of which services you are getting.
  2. Find out exactly what is included in the estimate. 
  3. Are the walks and steps included?
  4. What about the cost of sand and/or salt? 
  5. Will the company clear only after the storm, or during the snowfall as well? 
  6. If the contractor has to come back more than once during the same storm, is there an additional charge?
  • Ask for references, and check them out.
  • Check with the Better Business Bureau for a Business Review on a contractor you are planning on hiring.
  • Do not agree to the terms of the contract over the telephone. The contractor should provide you with a written agreement.
  • Before signing the agreement, find out who is responsible for damages such as cracked driveways or broken gates.

Your expectations of your snow removal contractor should be realistic.  Keep in mind that a snowstorm makes traveling difficult for you and the contractor and that during major snowstorms, it may take longer for the contractor to reach you and perform the contracted work.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Patricia December 27, 2012 at 12:32 PM
Good advice-also, find out or ask if the contractor is familiar with the snow removal policy of the City. In other words, you should know when your driveway is cleared where the contractor will place that snow. Snow should be placed on your property to the sides of the driveway or I believe in the easement/street area running along your street facing property. Also inquire about contractors that push the snow down the street and plow it into or by intersections in residential areas and those that cover the street drains on the corner with the snow from driveways-pushing it over 100 feet past the property they were contracted to clear and placing it in front of other residential property. This may or may not be the snow removal policy of the city, but at the very least, it is discourteous to others who are left with no place to deposit their cleared snow. This can clearly cause navigation problems on our residential streets. It's our first real snowfall and it is already happening.
Sean December 27, 2012 at 03:48 PM
Just a FYI from someone who does this type of work. Never, under any circumstances, should snow from one property be put on another or pushed across the street or road. It really doesn't matter if you're in town or out in the country. It's a no-no.
Better Business Bureau December 27, 2012 at 04:07 PM
Great addition to our tips!! Thank you both so much
KP December 31, 2012 at 01:43 AM
Big one!! Does the contractor have INSURANCE?

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