An ad in the yellow pages or a web site doesn't mean the company is reliable. Work your way up to state and national, depending upon whether the company is local or national. Customer service of national franchises may vary in different locations because of local management policies. When checking the reliability of a company, remember that the company may have moved, changed its name or not been in business long enough for any complaints to be filed.
Ask for references and check them. Ask family and friends if they have done business with the company and if it was reliable. If applicable, visit a site and check out the quality of work.
Call the local Better Business Bureau. It will have records of any local problems, especially if the company is a member of the BBB. Don't stop at the BBB, because there may be problems that weren't reported and not everyone is a member.
Check the company's license with the state. Most states require licensing and certification for many professions. Phone numbers for the licensing boards can be found in the blue pages of the telephone book.
Verify the company's reliability with the state attorney general's office and the state consumer protection office. Both offices have a lists of any complaints filed against a company. Phone numbers and addresses available under state offices in the blue pages.
Inquire at the federal offices of Commission on Civil Rights or Consumer Product Safety Commission for any complaints against the company. The addresses and phone numbers of these commissions can be found online or at your local post office.
Pay with a credit card so you can dispute the charges Get everything in writing, including charges, cancellation and refund policies.