Advice from CAA-Quebec - Be well informed before you sign a snow-removal contract

    QUEBEC CITY, Sept. 26 /CNW Telbec/ - The hundreds of centimetres of snow
that piled up just about everywhere in Quebec last year have no doubt
persuaded many consumers to rely on a snow-removal service this winter.
CAA-Quebec warns that there are several things you should consider when
choosing a snow-removal contractor, and that you should pay particular
attention to the clauses of the contract binding you to that company.
    "Whether you're getting ready to renew a contract or have decided on snow
removal for the first time, you mustn't leave anything to chance when it comes
to the contract clauses," emphasizes Sophie Gagnon, Senior Director, Public
and Government Relations, CAA-Quebec. "This is all the more important, because
changes and rate increases can be expected this winter. These include clauses
stipulating that there will be additional charges after a certain amount of
snow has fallen during the winter, which is something we rarely saw before in
the residential snow removal business."

    Who should get the job? - As winter approaches, plenty of
"cottage-industry" snow-removal companies make the rounds, offering their
services door to door, in classified ads or by distributing brochures. How
should consumers choose? To avoid problems, it's best to go with a contractor
you can trust, and make sure you have their full contact information.
"Consumers should be wary of people who provide only a phone number, who could
walk off with their money. They should also avoid those who are reluctant to
draw up a contract in writing and provide invoices," Ms. Gagnon notes. To
avoid unpleasant surprises, it's best to get quotes from several contractors
to whom you have provided the same specific criteria. In addition, the company
you choose must have liability insurance to cover potential damage to your

    Contract? What contract? - The golden rule: always demand a contract in
writing. It should specify the full duration of the agreement, the minimum
snowfall required for snow to be removed, the time at which the first snow
removal is to be done in the morning, the areas to be covered (e.g. balcony,
steps) and where the snow is to be dumped in accordance with municipal
by-laws. "It's also very important to agree on the terms of payment right from
the start. By signing the contract you commit to complying with the clauses,
so there's no need for a down payment," Ms. Gagnon adds, concluding: "Many
people will be trading their shovels for a snow removal service this year, but
rate increases averaging 10% to 30% are to be expected, particularly due to
the increase in diesel fuel prices and the harsh winter we had in 2007-2008.
So shop around, and do it early, to make sure you get the right people for the

    CAA-Quebec is a non-profit organization founded in 1904 that ensures its
950,000 members and its customers safety and peace of mind by providing them
with high-quality services in the automotive, travel, residential and
financial services sectors.

For further information:

For further information: Montreal: Roxanne Héroux, (514) 861-7111, ext.
3210,; Quebec City: Philippe St-Pierre, (418) 624-2424,
ext. 2418,

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