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Tips for researching companies could save you call to CBS4 Problem Solvers

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- CBS4 Problem Solvers gets a lot of calls from people who had problems with companies or contractors, and simple tips could save you money.

In some cases, it takes knowing where to search and what questions to ask, in order to be sure you hire someone reputable.

In our latest case, CBS4 Problem Solvers helped homeowner James Payne get a fencing company to repair his new fence, after months of waiting.

"I should've know better and known a better way," Payne said.

In Payne's case, the company made good on its promise to fix the fence. In other cases, though, it can take months or years to get your money back, if you get anything at all.

One of the simplest ways to check into a company is to utilize public information online. You can check private sites like Angie's List and HomeAdvisor, or go with the Better Business Bureau, which is a non-profit.

On the BBB website, be sure to change your location and search a few different ways if you can't find a specific company. When you do find the company, look through complaints and read them to see what they say, and whether the company responded.

You can also search for court filings in both criminal and small claims cases on Indiana's MyCase database.

It's also a regular practice to search for reviews -- but be sure to take them with a grain of salt. The BBB's Tim Maniscalo says most people don't write reviews, especially if the job was good.

"The reviews are written by about seven percent of the consumers out there so you’re getting a pretty small sampling of people who have had experiences," Maniscalo said.

Because of that, you should also ask detailed questions of other consumers and the company, and talk to multiple companies.

Payne told CBS4 that he asked a neighbor who built his fence, but did not ask about his experience. He also said he went with the lowest quote, which Maniscalo suggested is not always the best idea.

Another tip is to find out if the job requires a license, and look the person up with Indiana's Professional Licensing Agency.

Whether the profession requires a license or not, Maniscalo said it's a good idea to find out as much as you can about a company before you hire them.

"How long have they been in business? I think that’s always a fair (question)," Maniscalo said.

Finally, if you do have a bad experience, file a complaint. You can do that with the BBB and with the Indiana Attorney General. Both will consider your case for mediation and reach out to the company for a response. Not only could that help resolve the issue, but it also could help the person who comes next after you.

"The more information you've got, the better informed you're going to be," Maniscalo said.

If you do find yourself with a bad consumer experience, CBS4 Problem Solvers is here to help. You can contact us at ProblemSolvers@cbs4indy.com or (317) 677-1544.

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