With Winter weather coming, New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is offering some tips for hiring snow removal contractors.

Schneiderman says by following some basic tips like getting several quotes for snow removal and using an experienced contractor, consumers can avoid getting scammed and ensure quality work.

  • Obtain several quotes for snow plowing services. This will give consumers a good sense of the range of prices currently being offered.
  • Don't accept a quote simply because it's the lowest.  If a quote is very low, the contractor may run out of money before the winter season is over or the contractor may not have money to pay for repairs when a vehicle breaks down.
  • Use a contractor that has been in business for a few years or that comes recommended by friends and neighbors.  The winter season brings out many people who decide to get into the snowplowing business.  New businesses may have the best of intentions, but may not have the necessary experience.
  • Check to see if your local government requires snow plow contractors to be licensed. If so, use a contractor who is licensed.
  • Use a contractor who is insured and has proof of insurance.
  • Check for complaints with the Better Business Bureau: www.bbb.org.
  • Pay one half of the contract at the beginning of the season, and one half at the end to help ensure that services promised will be provided.
  • Pay by check so you have proof of payment.
  • Get a signed contract that has the name, address (do not accept a post office box) and telephone number of the snowplow operator.  The contract should spell out how much snow must fall before the operator is required to plow your driveway.
  • Obtain proof of identity of the contractor.  Ask to see the contractor’s driver's license and copy down the address and identification number.
  • Copy down the license plate number of the vehicle that plows your driveway.
  • If you have special requirements, spell it out in the contract (for example, if you are an emergency responder who must have your driveway plowed by 7:00 a.m. to get to work, make sure it is in the contract).

“Snow removal is an essential part of everyday life for many New Yorkers during the winter months, and taking basic precautions now can help ensure quality work and avoid problems later,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “As snow begins to fall, consumers should ask important questions of snow removal contractors to ensure they’re getting a quality service from a reputable provider.”

If consumers feel they have been victimized, they are urged to contact the Attorney General's Consumer Helpline: (800) 771-7755.