For Immediate Release - March 22, 2010

Patrick-Murray Administration Survey of Home Show Contractors Finds 85 Percent Do Not Follow Registration Number Display Requirements

Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation finds 69 of 81 did not display information

BOSTON - A survey of home improvement contractors (HIC) conducted by the Patrick-Murray Administration's Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation found that 85 percent of the contractors checked did not follow state laws requiring the listing of registration numbers on displays and other advertising.

Since taking over the HIC program last July, the Office of Consumer Affairs has focused on ensuring contractors know the law regarding registration numbers and understand the importance of displaying the numbers. For consumers, being able to easily find and check a registration number is important as homeowners go through the process of considering a contractor. Hiring a registered contractor affords some protections and possible compensation from the state's Guaranty Fund that would not be available if a consumer uses an unregistered contractor.

"One of the fundamental things every consumer should do when choosing a contractor is to check the registration. The mandate to display a registration number is an important one for contractors to follow," said Barbara Anthony, the Undersecretary of the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation. "Surveys like this one help protect consumers who are making expensive decisions when they move ahead on home improvement projects, and also helps us increase awareness among contractors."

The survey was conducted on February 25 and 28 at the New England Home Show at the Seaport World Trade Center. Surveyors from the Office of Consumer Affairs checked 81 contractors on hand at the show and found that 69 did not properly display an appropriate registration number. Six of the displays included expired registration numbers and seven were unregistered contractors. The rest of the non-compliant contractors, 56, failed to display their active registration number. Twelve properly displayed their information.

The Office of Consumer Affairs sent a letter to each contractor surveyed, notifying them of the individual results. The Office continues to reach out to the nearly 29,000 contractors in the Commonwealth through mailings, the Office's website (www.mass.gov/consumer) and other methods in an effort to ensure contractors are aware of the requirements.

"This is an effort to raise awareness," said Undersecretary Anthony. "The overwhelming majority of our registered contractors want to the right thing for their customers, and we know that if they are aware of this rule, they will follow it."

The Patrick-Murray Administration's Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation is committed to protecting consumers through consumer advocacy and education, and also works to ensure that the businesses its agencies regulate treat all Massachusetts consumers fairly. Follow the Office at its blog, Consumer Connections, and on Twitter @Mass_Consumer.