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Thread: The Venerable Driveway Paving Scam, Redux

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Hong Kong
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    The Venerable Driveway Paving Scam, Redux

    I know everyone's heard about this - it dates back years. But, since Bernie Madoff seems to be taking up a solo spot in the "History of Scams" area, I figured I'd post it under "Other".

    I was thumbing through a paper out of Poughkeepsie or Rochester or someplace like that last week. Someone left it at my pub - I guess he'd just flown in, 'cuz I know we don't get that many out of town papers here. And I was real surprised to read that this old driveway paving scam is still going on. I think I first heard of it in the 80s, and you'd think that the world had cottoned to it by now.

    The essentials: A guy pulls up in his pickup truck which has a tar tank/tankette attached to it. "We're just finishing up at Mrs. Elmer's around the corner and my dumb brother ordered too much asphalt. We figure if we can get rid of it today, it'd be worth it to us, and we could come do your driveway, which by the way really needs resurfacing as you know, after we're done, oh about four o'clock. For three hundred bucks...." (That price is about $2000 below market.)

    It's based on the basic premises of the classic flim flam man:
    a) Play to the greed of the mark.
    b) If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

    The "pavers", of course, come back and put a half-inch of some sealer on there and paint it shiny black. Looks great, you give them their $300, and hope it doesn't rain because when it does, the paint and filler wash off, and you're back to your crappy old cracked driveway and three hundred bucks poorer.

    I was curious and googled the topic this morning, and found a new wrinkle.

    The bait and switch. They prey on the elderly, do a legitimate job, but when it comes time to collect, tney demand thousands of dollars more than their offer, and essentially strong-arm the home-owner.

    Anyhow - just an old classic that it might help someone to be aware of.

    ETA: Weird VB behaviour. My post seems to have "under under other" in the opening paragraph. But I go to edit it, there's only one "under".

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
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    Re: The Venerable Driveway Paving Scam, Redux

    Howdy Foolmewunz,

    There are any number of variations on what could be called "contractor" scams, you seem to have covered the most common modality of offering a good enough deal that people don't ask the most basic questions. "Are you licensed", "are you registered with the city", "do you have references"? The people who ask these questions are seldom the ones who lose money on "driveway" scams (or perhaps better put, drive-away with your money scams). Perhaps the best way to find a contractor is word of mouth, someone you know used someone who did a good enough job to earn a recommendation. If you don't have that sort of personal connection then look for licensed, bonded and established people but be prepared to pay a fair wage. But the fly by night folks charging a fraction of the normal fee seldom save you any money.

    Weird VB behaviour. My post seems to have "under under other" in the opening paragraph. But I go to edit it, there's only one "under".
    Thanks again.
    Hmm, looks fine now but I'll keep an eye out for any similar hiccups.
    So your prophets of finance have fallen on their collective proverbial face, and you hear muffled voices calling: Welcome to the human race.
    You made a killing dealing real estate at NASA selling cemetery plots in outer space til some falling coffins crashed upon your doorstep: Welcome to the human race.

    Open up your heart...

    Welcome to

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
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    Re: The Venerable Driveway Paving Scam, Redux

    Just days after reading this post about the "driveway paving scam",
    a guy knocks on our door today offering to seal our driveway for $300 is we take him up on the offer today.
    I've heard about this scam before, but I'm so happy I read this here a couple days ago as a reminder.
    The guy claimed he had just completed a driveway "nearby", but wouldn't give us a name or phone number to followup.

    He did give us a flyer with supposedly his own name and phone number.
    My husband and I live in Central New York, the flyer shows a phone number with a South Carolina area code.

    Here is some info from Popular Mechanics about this scam:

    Top 3 Homeowner Traps to Avoid This Summer: Scam Watch - Popular Mechanics
    Top 3 Homeowner Traps to Avoid This Summer: Scam Watch
    Cut-Rate Driveway Sealing
    There's a knock on the door and you're greeted by a guy with a pickup towing an impressive asphalt-sealing rig. He says he has leftover sealing material from shooting several nearby driveways, and he'll give you a great price to shoot yours -- but only if he can do it right now.

    It's a bad idea because:
    Resealing a driveway takes prep work this guy isn't telling you about. To do the job right, you need to fill in cracks and maybe fix crumbling sections. At the least, there are oil spots to prime, and the whole surface normally should be cleaned, before the sealer is applied. As any competent contractor will tell you, spray coating is the last step in the process, not the first. Besides, as a PM reader, this is one job you can handle yourself. (Go to
    Last edited by walksthedogs; 07-08-2010 at 05:36 PM.

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