Buying a service from a person licensed to do professional or vocational work is very different from buying merchandise in a store where you can see the product on the shelf and know exactly what you are getting. Buying a service requires that you have as accurate as possible, an understanding of what you are getting and how much it costs. This description should be in writing, preferably in a written contract signed by both the buyer and the seller. Make sure that all blanks are filled in before you sign the contract, and be sure to keep a signed and dated copy for yourself.
Before you buy or contract for a service, especially if it costs more than just a few dollars, learn as much as you can about it, including the jargon for the particular line of work or service. Find out who are the most reliable people or companies. Compare the advantages and disadvantages of each, and shop around for the best combination of service and price.
For services involving a lot of money, such as home repair, it is always best to get at least three written estimates detailing exactly what will be done and when it will be completed. Remember, the lowest bid doesn’t always mean the best job. You should also compare the types of material to be used and see how closely each bid matches your specifications.
Next, compare the guarantees that may come with the service. And, find out if the company has a local representative if you are making a purchase from a company outside Hawaii. This can make a difference later, if you need to have the work corrected or if you have a dispute on any part of the contract.
In order to avoid fraudulent or deceptive schemes, check out the individual or company’s reputation in the community by talking to other customers and professionals. You can also call the Professional and Vocational Licensing Division of the State Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs to check if the regulated professional or company is licensed to do business in Hawaii and what types of complaints they have gotten, if any.