RCMP on P.E.I. say they've opened an investigation into complaints about snow removal companies on the Island.
Cst. Gavin Moore said they've received "numerous" complaints from people in various parts of the province who all claim to have been scammed by snow removal companies.
"We've had a number of reports recently from Islanders with concerns about contractors that they've had for snow removal or roofing where they suspect they may have been defrauded," he said.
"It's a concern that people may have paid for a service and that that service is not going to be rendered," he said. "If there's an element of dishonesty, then that could then make it a fraud."
Corey Nicholson is the co-owner of Dickieson's Snow Removal, which has been clearing snow in Charlottetown since 1974.
He said talk of scams can hurt everybody — even companies with a good reputation.
"I've had a few calls from people that had hired another company and that other company hasn't shown up or wasn't able to get there," he said.
The problem, he said, is that many snow clearing companies are already booked up — and if someone is left out in the cold, there isn't always much he can do to help.
"With us being fairly full unless we're right in that area, it's really hard for us to take any more [clients] on," he said.
Ask questions upfront
Nicholson said there are steps you can take to protect yourself when hiring a new contractor, including asking how much equipment they have.
"You should always know what your company's equipment is capable of," he said.
"It might not be capable of bigger snow, or if they are trying to do too big of an area, they may not be able to do the customer service that you're looking for."
The RCMP recommend you research any company you're planning to hire as a contractor, and ask yourself questions, including:
Is the price too good to be true?
How long have they been in business?
Do they have the required equipment and insurance?
Have you checked references?
Moore also said it's important to get all agreements in writing — including quotes, contracts and invoices.
"Before handing over money, it's important to know for both sides exactly what's expected," he said. "If that expectation isn't met, then you now have a formal record of what the agreement was."
If you believe you've been a victim of a scam, RCMP also recommend you contact police right away.