Q - I see and hear from a lot of different sources about how Company A will do this for me or Company B is having a sale on this and that.

How do I know that these are good companies? I need some work done to my house, plumbing, heating and air, and septic. What should I be looking for in a service company?

Ann in Lithonia

A - That is a good question. Here are a few things that I would look for and expect out of a service company that I was going to use.

Size of company. For my money I want to use a company that is big enough and has enough experience so there are no surprises. Large companies with many employees are rarely stumped when it comes to trouble shooting.

Stability of company. Although I am sure that there are a few quality start-up service companies out there, I prefer one that has been around and been successful. That tells me that they have the resources to get the job done.

Set specific appointments. I like my service companies to tell me when they are going to be there within an hour. I hate the "…sometime between 8a and 5p…" routine. Tell me when you are going to be there, then call me 15 minutes before you get there in case I have stepped out.

Talk to me. Once at my house, I like the company to tell me the issues, then tell me how much it will cost (without guessing) to fix, and also tell me how long it will take to get the job done.

Two corollaries here:

A - Your cost of repair ought to be at least in the vicinity of the advertised special price I heard on your radio commercial. Don't come to my house telling me it's $159 only to have add-ons and service charges that push the total north of $400.

2 - And don't lie to me about time. If you are starting on Monday and it's going to take 4 days don't tell me 2. Dumb as I look even I will begin to suspect something when you show up to work on Thursday.

Also - if something goes wrong (or right) I want to know as you go, not afterward when you are trying to explain the extra hundred tacked onto the bill.

Don't be a stranger. If I have a problem after you leave and need you back out to fix or finish a job I don't want to hear "…we will get there when we can…"

I waited for you to get here the first time, once you are in my house doing my job; I should become a priority to you. Anything else is unacceptable.

Those should help you at least get going and know what to watch out for.

Good luck!