NH1 News Investigates: Chimney cleaning scam?
MANCHESTER - Officials in the Queen City are warning residents about a possible chimney cleaning scam.
The Manchester Fire Department said unlicensed chimney cleaners are preying on innocent victims.
One women who had work done by the company, Greinke Chimney Services out of New York, said she got scammed.
"I feel like I should have known better," said Pauline Gagne, of Manchester.
Having lived in her Manchester home for more than 50 years, Gagne never thought twice when she got a knock on the door a few weeks back.
On the other side of the door, were people who she believed to be licensed contractors telling her she needed work done on her chimneys, and she gave them the go ahead.
"I don't know why I was so ready to let them do this," Gagne said in retrospect.
Those contractors, she said, told her the chimneys were clogged and that bricks were falling off.
When asked if she believed them, Gagne was quick to answer, "Yes, I did."
But as they were doing the work, Gagne's son happened to stop by. He thought something seemed wrong and called the Manchester Fire Department.
"Basically it was a high-pressure sales, door-to-door sales," said Manchester Fire Marshal Peter Lennon. "They were knocking on doors telling people they needed all this work on their chimneys and their gas appliance and in fact, they did not need it."
We spoke with a representative of the company over the phone and he admitted they weren't licensed to do the work here in New Hampshire but said they don't use high-pressure sales tactics.
Instead, he said, they tell the customer what needs to be done and then, he said, they let the customer decide. In Pauline's case, they said she definitely needed a lot of work done but said she was not a victim.
That same representative told NH1 News that they were getting mixed messages from the city of Manchester about the proper permits and licenses needed to do any type of chimney work, but the Manchester Fire Marshal said there's no question in his mind that this was a scam.
"Get them swindled out of money and doing work they didn't need," Lennon said.
As for Pauline, all she can do now is second guess herself.
"Why did I let it go on?" she said. "Why did I let them do this?"
The Manchester Fire Marshal's office said they're now working to see if any other people had work done by the company. The company representative said they did four other jobs.
Meantime, the fire marshal said, if some type of contractor comes to your door then ask to see a permit and a license.
If they don't have both, he urged the home owner to close the door right away.
Pauline said she wishes she did just that.