Plumbing problems? Beware of Fake Business Profiles on Google – NBC Boston
When you need home repair, a quick Google search can help you find someone to do the repair. But the company you call may not be the one that shows up at your doorstep.
Alex Polivy of Sudbury, Massachusetts found a local listing for a plumber a few weeks ago when his pipe valve blew.
“I just Googled plumbers near me and Cornerstone Plumbing came up on Google and got reviews,” Polivy said.
The listing showed a Sudbury address on Boston Post Road and a local phone number.
Polivy called Cornerstone Plumbing and they said they could have a plumber come to his house that day. They also sold him a one-year subscription for priority service and discounts on parts and labor.
“They said it would be $99 one-time fee or you could pay $149 service fee for a year as many times as you want plus 10% parts and labor. I have said, ‘OK, sign me up for this, that sounds good, because I have other contracts with oil companies, all these other guarantees,’ he said.
But when Polivy received the contract by email, it didn’t say “Cornerstone Plumbing.” It said “Premium Home Service”. He says he was told that Premium Home Service was Cornerstone’s service provider.
When the plumber showed up, Polivy says he turned off the main water valve and water spilled everywhere.
“He’s yelling, ‘Go get a bucket! Go get a bucket!'” Polivy said. “I started questioning him and thinking, ‘Are you even a plumber?'”
Things took a turn when it was time to pay the bill. Polivy said he asked who he should write the check to, and he says the plumber told him he would only accept payment through CashApp or Venmo.
“I said, ‘Well, I don’t have one,'” Polivy said. “I said, ‘I’m going to call Cornerstone to make the payment.’ He says, ‘No, you’re going to pay me.’ So I said, ‘How much do I owe you?’ and he said $800. I said, ‘Eight hundred dollars to put the valve on? Crazy, I’m not giving you $800.’ He said, ‘Give me $700 to leave.'”
Polivy says that instead of having a confrontation with him, he gave him the money to leave. He made a payment through another money transfer app and admits that he did not ask for a quote before the work began.
“As soon as he left, I got in the car and drove to the address listed online as Cornerstone Plumbing,” Polivy said. “I go out and there’s clearly no plumbing business.”
Sudbury police say they can’t find a business record for Cornerstone Plumbing in town, and they say the management company for the building where it’s supposed to be located also doesn’t have information on the location. ‘business.
When NBC10 Boston called Cornerstone Plumbing to ask about their location, a man answering the phone said the Sudbury address on their list was old, that they were moving. He said he would call a manager back, but no one did. We also called Premium Home Service and were told there was no way to get in touch with a manager until they hung up on us.
The Better Business Bureau, which gives Premium Home Service an F rating, says it appears the company is based in Chicago.
Google says it is working hard to tackle the problem of fake business profiles.
“Our team has reviewed this matter and is taking immediate action to remove content that violates the policy and disable the user account associated with the business profile,” a Google spokesperson said. “We have clear policies that prohibit fake and fraudulent content, and our automated systems and trained operators work around the clock to monitor cards for suspicious behavior.”
“I would really take the time to look at who you’re dealing with, which I didn’t because I was in the middle of a water leak,” Polivy said. “I would just say be careful who comes into your house, who you trust.”
When hiring someone, always get referrals from friends and neighbors. Make sure the contractor or business is licensed. And get a written estimate before the work is done.
If a disagreement with a contractor arises and it reaches a level where your safety is at stake, call the police.