I Got Scammed: Garage Door Repair

In the past week I had one of those experiences that we all try to avoid but sometimes wind up getting caught in.  I was helping a friend get their garage door fixed and wound up getting connected with a company that five minutes of online research would have told me to avoid.  Here’s how it happened and how you can avoid it…

The Story

garage door repair scamAnyone who owns a house knows that the garage door will eventually fail.  A garage door only has a few components.  The door itself is on a set of rollers in a track and is assisted in opening and closing by a set of torsion springs, drums, cables, and the garage door opener.  In most cases if your garage door won’t open, or opens part of the way then shuts, one of the torsion springs has broken.  The springs will typically last anywhere from 10,000 to 20,000 cycles.

Replacing torsion springs can be done by the homeowner but it is not advisable.  By the time you get the springs and the correct tools, you would have been better off paying someone to do the job.  But the garage door repair industry is riddled with dishonest business operators.

In my case I called the number that was on the sticker inside the garage door for “Company A.”  The first warning sign I ignored was when my call to a 972 area code (Dallas area) was transferred to a national call center.  It was the morning after Thanksgiving and I was wanting to schedule an appointment for later in the afternoon.

I ignored another HUGE warning sign in the phone call with “Company A.”  I told the operator I had a broken torsion spring on a 16’x7′ metal garage door.  I asked what would be a ballpark price just to have the springs replaced.  The operator said they couldn’t provide that information.  For anyone reading this post, this should be the time when you politely end the phone call and call another company.  A reputable garage door repair company will provide you with a price estimate over the phone for a specific service.

Earlier in the morning I had called the repair company I have used at my house, “Company B.”  They were closed for the Thanksgiving holiday but the owner called me back later in the day.  I informed him I had another company coming out.  He spent some time asking questions and told me if they wanted more than $250 for the job they were ripping me off.  I thanked him for the information and ignored my instinct to call “Company A” and cancel the scheduled service appointment.

The repairman for “Company A” showed up to the house on time and was polite, although he brought his pre-teen son with him for the job.  He took a look at the springs and started rattling off repair costs.  Then came the warning sign which let me know it was time for this man to go.  He tried to quote me prices for 90-day, 2-year, and lifetime rated springs.  This is the oldest scam in the garage door repair industry and is a clear sign you are dealing with a bad business.

He rattled off the costs for the repairs so quickly that I asked him to write them down for me.  He went out to his truck for a bit and came back with the lowest number at $443 for installing a pair of 90-day springs.  I believe the top number was $600 for the lifetime springs (more on that later).  I told him I had another quote for a max cost of $250 and that I would need to pay his service fee and send him on his way.

His reaction was interesting.  He was taken back for a few moments by my refusal of his bid.  He then wanted to inspect the rest of the garage elements since he was already there.  I had no problems with this because I wanted to hear what he would say.  He said that every component on the door was worn out – the drums, the cables, the rollers, and of course the springs.  He then asked, in a polite manner, if I would call “Company B” and ask what it would cost to replace all these items.  “Company B” humored his request and said the springs would be $239, drums were $39, rollers were $85 for a set of 10, and the cable was no charge.  Their complete repair came in $100 less than his bid for just the springs.

I again told the repairman from “Company A” that I would happily pay his service charge and send him on his way.  The service charge was $89 but the national operator had told me there was a $40 discount because I got the number from the sticker on the door.  I had to talk the repairman into giving me this discount.  I ate the $50 fee because it was my mistake not my friend’s mistake.  The repairman continued to make his case as we did the paperwork but to his credit he remained polite during the entire process.

“Company B” came out the next day and replaced the springs for $239 as quoted.  They also replaced the plastic rollers for $85 and said all other components were in good operating condition.

How To Avoid My Mistakes

Know Your Door

How big is it?  Measure how tall and wide it is.  What is it made of?  Metal, insulated metal, wood.  Inspect the components.  A broken torsion spring will almost always be evident.  They are the two dark coils above your door.  If it is broken you will see one coil is separated.  Give the drums a visual inspection.  There is one above each corner of your door with a cable running over it.  They should have grooves.  If they are smooth they will need to be replaced.  Visually inspect the cables.  If you see any fraying or damage they need to be replaced.  Check out the rollers all along the side of your door.  If they are plastic and more than five years old they should probably be replaced.  The best rollers have a metal shaft and a neoprene covered roller.  The roller looks a bit like an inline skate wheel.

Get An Estimate

If you know your components, you can provide an accurate description of the situation.  The repair company should provide a ballpark estimate based on your information.  Ask for them to email you the bid so you have it in writing.

Local Only

If the number you call transfers you to a national call center, hang up!  Only deal with local companies that are listed with the BBB.  You should also verify membership and current standing with the BBB.  A quick search on Google or Yelp will also tell you all you need to know about the company you have contacted.

Lifetime Spring Scam

If a company offers you a lifetime spring or a lifetime warranty it is a scam.  No spring will last a lifetime.  When it comes to garage door torsion springs, a spring is pretty much a spring.  The lifetime scam works like this.  They charge you an initial price about double the price of a regular spring.  What they don’t tell you is that the lifetime warranty is only on the spring.

Let’s say in five years your lifetime spring breaks.  You call up “Company A” and setup an appointment.  The spring is free, but they will charge you an $89 service fee and a $100 installation fee.  And here’s the kicker!  They will only replace the broken spring.  So the next month when your other lifetime torsion spring breaks (they operate in pairs) you will pay the $89 service fee and the $100 installation fee again.

Final Thought

All in all, a $50 lesson isn’t that big of a deal.  I was busy and we had company in town.  If I had trusted my instinct I could have saved myself some time and money.  There will be companies that install springs for less than the $239 of “Company B” but they have done several jobs for me and I have always been pleased with their work.  If you’re in the Dallas / Fort Worth area, “Company B” is Door Works.  Message me if you want to know who “Company A” is.

Comments

I Got Scammed: Garage Door Repair — 19 Comments

  1. Put Door Works in my “favorites” list. Need garage door work done, but that’s WAY down the road after getting the roof replaced (and that’s been needed for a few years now) but a reputable repairman is always good to know…and way too hard to come by. All that said, of course I want to know who to avoid as well! So who is company A ?

    • I just started contacting garage repair companies and Precision Garage (national franchise or something) wanted 89$ for service without willing to provide any estimates on cost of repair, even when I said the torsion spring broke after it was replaced around 7-8 years ago. They said something along the lines of “each garage is unique and we won’t know until someone comes see it” which means you’re in the hole 89$ regardless. I tried to get them to budge on an ESTIMATE within 100$ and they couldn’t give it to me. Obviously a ripoff.

      I also dealt with SEARS and they wanted 130$ to assess, then they “custom make” springs that cost 100-400$, but couldn’t give a ballpark on the price even when I told them the door size and material.

      I ended up going with a local business owner who told me it would be around 150, 180, and 200 for single, double, and double with extended life torsion springs OVER THE PHONE, and that the price is an estimate with 5-10$ adjustment, so I went with him.

      • Hi Kathleen…The name of “Company A” escapes me right now and the sticker is on the inside of my brother-in-law’s garage door. The biggest clue that you have “Company A” is when you dial a 972 or 214 (Dallas) area code and are seamlessly transferred to a national call center. This post is very popular and it is obviously because there are a TON of scam artists in the garage door repair industry.

        • Same thing happened to me today! Replaced nothing. Just disconnected and rewound my garage door cables & charged me $450!

  2. Wow, I just went through the same thing!! Like you, I ate the “service” call (50 bucks as well), but I thought, it was worth it to know a scam. As my garage door was a Wayne Dalton, I had to deal with numerous lies. Wayne Dalton’s just CAN’T be fixed, they don’t make them that way. You have to replace (swap) everything and it’ll cost an arm and a leg. Replacing the spring, PFF!! They’re just junk etc. Then the infamous, “Lifetime Warranty” spiel, our coils are unlike any other, we’re the ONLY ones who buy this genuine space age stuff that NO ONE has access to. Long story short, quote came it at 600 bucks. When I balked, they called their rep who was absurdly aggressive, wanting me to have the repair done immediately, even dropping the quote all of a sudden to 450!! WHAT?? The more I called, the more runaround and BS I got with others as well. Finally I reached someone, who’s still upcharging me a bit but it’s less than 350 and I’ll just deal with it. I called 4 of my “local” garage repairs, ALL went to a call center, what can you do about that. It just seems that’s most of them operate to cut costs. There may be very few legitimate brick and mortar garage repairs nowadays.

    I want to reiterate your thoughts about knowing as much as possible about your door as once the smell you don’t, they’ll try to scam you. After I found out what kind of garage door I had, I researched it. Amazing how the tune changes when you tell them all the specific’s and tell them, I could do it myself, but I don’t have the tools. As always, an educated consumer is much less likely to get taken. Great article!!

  3. I wish I had read your article before the Dallas Overhead Door tech came out. I ended up paying $965 to have 2 standard garage door springs replaced, plus 10 nylon rollers and a center bearing.

    I will certainly call Door Works next time I have any garage door opener problems.

    • I called Fort Worth Overhead Door (which is the same company) also known as Garage Door Services, and ended up being charged $1500 after $500 in DISCOUNTS. I almost fainted when he presented the bill as I only needed the springs and rollers replaced. I was expecting around $250 as per his bid.
      He replaced everything, charged an astronomical price for labor. I am almost 80 years old but I knew when I saw the invoice that I was scammed. I was literally ill for days.

  4. My garage door broke on Christmas Eve and I’m waiting for Monday when the local guys re-open for business. I started with the number on the sticker in my garage (like you) but haven’t gotten through to anyone…but it sounded like the local call went through to a national call center. I won’t be calling them back.

    Thank you!!!

    • The garage door repair industry is a pretty sketchy one. Hope you found someone who could come out and do the job at a reasonable price. Once you find a good company keep their info and share it with your friends. A good company is pretty hard to find.

  5. I just had a Company A come out and give an estimate to replace the broken spring on my garage.

    It’s funny that I found this post right after I sent him packing. The guy on the phone wouldn’t give me a ballpark price either. But they were willing to come out on a Sunday and waive the $39 inspection fee.

    I previously had a quote for $191 to replace it but my neighbor just replaced his and had done it himself. So I being the procrastinator that I am waited to get it done.

    The “tech” that came out quoted me $600 to do the job! That’s not a typo he quoted me six hundred dollars! When I stopped laughing in his face he said its that high because I wanted to go to the 2 spring system and those springs typically run about $50 a piece more.

    This guy was going to charge me $200 per spring and $200 to install. I even told him that my neighbor had just purchased the springs for $50 each and had the tension tools needed to do the job!

    He went down to $400 BUT I would only get the 90 day warranty springs. He even tried to sell me the springs for a discounted $150 each.

    Well with a smile on my face I very politely turned him down. This is in the Austin area. So beware they are out there. Jon’s story hit the nail on the head with this company. I wish I’d read it before I called them, it would have saved us both some unnecessarily spent calories. I’ll wait a day and save $400 to $500 as I procrastinate over doing it myself or calling the other company out.

    • It is pretty staggering isn’t it Jerry?!? Company A is nationwide so this could happen just about anywhere. Thanks for your comment!

      • Yeah it is. I ended up paying just $190 for the whole thing with a small local company. They name was Cedar Park garage door Co.
        Just in case somebody from the Austin area ever reads this and I hope they do!

        They were named Cedar Park Garage Door Co. The guy called me and said he was in Killeen but he would be here in less than 2 hours. He was!

        I later found out he was in Killeen at home! He was done for the day but still drove all that way to fix it! Amazing! I apologized to him after I found out and told him I would have waited until the morning (he asked if I could but I didn’t want to wait and I had know idea he was home) and he said “no problem, I get paid for it”

        This was yesterday 12/30. They will get my business next time for sure!

  6. Hello, I happened to come across your site/blog, I felt like I should say something to help everyone out. The garage door business is probably a big industry that is being abused as well as locksmiths, and many others. I am the web administrator for Grove City Garage Door Inc. in Columbus, Ohio. we run a family owned business and I have a few helpful tips for anyone looking for garage door repairs in your local areas. The BBB is a helpful place, but not always the best for getting information, scammers have sites there. Check out your local Secretary of States’ office and look up the company you wish to have service your door. If they are not listed with a business name and registered with your state, chances are they are a fake company. If you have services performed and feel that you were scammed, the best thing to do is to report the company to your local Attorney General’s office. We recently has a customer report a scam company, the company was GDS(Garage Door Service), they advertised with the Valpak, and are all over the USA running a scam with a pay to click. And one last thing, do not click the first company that pops up on your phone or computer, it is likely a scammer waiting to take your money. I hope my information is helpful to anyone, and do your homework on all companies before calling them to come to your home!

  7. We ended up hiring a local guy here in San Jose CA with great recommendation of neighbor’s and very happy we did!

    (FAST GARAGE DOOR REPAIR COMPANY)
    $199.00 for 2 springs installed parts, tax and labor with a warranty and free lube job and tightening of door screws and hardware.

    Now the story why we got second quote.

    GDS (company A ) came out and quoted us $89.00 service call, $229.00 per spring (2), $189.00 labor and $279.00 door balance fee. WHAT!!

    We tried to negotiate but the salesman was very wishwashy that me and my husband felt the car salesman tactics from the moment he started his spiel, fast speech , multiple price changes. He also had no business cards, truck stickers or decals to identify a company employee. Kind of scary! after further research of their license number we found out they’re not even licensed by the State of California Contractors License Board nor are they Better Business Bureau accredited like they claim they are. Multiple bad reviews online on Yelp and they go by 10,000 different names. Please stay clear of this company and don’t make the mistake that we did.

    Don’t call the first numbers or super flashy company on Google Like I did Research your companies , most top companies are scams.

  8. There is an article coming out in Door and access magazine about GDS, which has used over 100 different names, many that they try to use other companies names. Do a search for “The Worst Garage Door Company in the Nation” and you will find information about the company you are dealing with.

    Most of the door industry is a good group of guys, however this company is as bad as they get. They are a national company that employs over a hundred people, and they make millions every week scamming people.

    They are responsible for 1 in 7 BBB complaints in the door industries nationally, and there are 3000 door companies listed with them.

  9. I live in Dallas area and had a company sent by my home warranty insurance, only to find out that the broken spring is not covered by my insurance. CHS company offered to repair it for 189.00, and that’s including the service fee, at first insurance said 189 plus the 60.00 service fee, but Max of CHS said no i wont charge you that much, he said if you call our Company for this repair, i will charge you 189.00 and that’s how much i will charge you total. After reading all your posts,i am glad i have him do it at that price. Very polite and nice too. I recommend them.