TYLER - Better Business Bureau serving Central East Texas (BBB) is alerting consumers about a local glass company. Complainants allege Athens Glass took thousands of dollars in payments, failing to purchase materials and/or complete the project for which they were hired. BBB advises consumers to use caution before hiring any contractor, particularly when they ask for large sums of money up front.

BBB has received three complaints against Athens Glass in the last two years, two of which were filed in the last four months with a combined loss of $13,725. Complainants state they paid Mr. John Berkley, owner of Athens Glass to replace windows on their property, but the work was never initiated. They likewise claim that Berkley admitted he no longer had the money because he spent the money on “something else.”

BBB contacted Berkley multiple times in an attempt to resolve the complaints, but never received a response. The business has an ‘F’ rating which is the lowest rating on BBB’s scale.

BBB offers the following tips for hiring contractors:

Research the business. You can search a business’ Business Profile at bbb.org for their track record; which includes verified Customer Reviews and history of complaints.

Ask for multiple quotes. Shop around and get at least three quotes from different businesses. Make sure all bids consider the same criteria. Remember, the lowest bid may not necessarily be the best bid.

Get everything in writing. Always get estimates in writing and never let work begin without a written and signed contract. Do not be pressured into signing an agreement before you are ready and make sure you read and understand everything before signing. The contract should contain contact information, start and completion dates, a detailed description of the exact work to be done, any material costs, payment arrangements and warranty information. Make sure all verbal promises are included in the contract. Ask questions if you do not understand any part of the agreement. Never sign an incomplete or partially blank contract.

Remember the rule of thirds. Never pay in full up front. Pay a third at the beginning of the job, in the middle and the final payment once the work is completed and you are satisfied. Do not pay cash; make sure your check is written to a company, not an individual.

Get a receipt. Request a receipt marked “paid in full” when the job is done and your final payment is accepted.

Keep your contract. File your contract somewhere you can find it easily for future reference or if any questions arise after the work is finalized.