Hidden Camera Investigation: Garage Door Techs Called Out

COLUMBUS (Tom Sussi) -- You see their ads all over the internet offering around-the-clock garage door service and repair. But investigator Tom Sussi discovered many of these businesses are connected to one company in California: Global Development Strategies Inc. in San Diego.

According to the Better Business Bureau, the company has a D-rating. The majority of the complaints regard product and service.

Lorrie Neville filed one of those complaints.

"A mess." That's how the Hilliard woman described her dealings with Garage Door Services, one of dozens of names listed under Global Development Strategies Inc.

Neville hired them to fix dents in her garage door, but she says a tech convinced her to shell out nearly $700 for a new door. Neville said the tech warned her, "eventually it's (garage door) going to fall on my car or my grandkids."

Neville told Sussi workmanship was poor. "One side tilted, the other kind of stayed in place. It was a mess."

She says it took months to sort out the mess and get back her money. In the end, she hired another company to replace the door.

That case is closed. What isn't over are the questionable business practices of some of the company's techs.

The Investigators went undercover and made appointments with three different techs who claim they work under Garage Door Services. They called them to fix a problem they created that prevented the garage door opener from properly working.

Grove City Garage Door Inc., which has an A-plus rating with the BBB, thoroughly inspected the garages used in the hidden camera investigation.

Here's how things played out with our first tech.

He told the homeowner, "the rollers on the doors are shot." He said it's a safety hazard. "If those rollers break when somebody is standing underneath this it's going to kill 'em."

The tech also said there's a problem with the overhead opener. "There needs to be some motor work done," he explained. "There's something going on in there."

In a nearby room, the Investigators watched the tech's every move from monitors. Hidden cameras were placed throughout the garage. The only things this tech inspected was his iPhone, and the door sensor we unhooked. Which, by the way, he never mentioned to the homeowner.

He told the homeowner he could replace the rollers and fix the overhead unit, but it wouldn't be cheap. "$564.00 and i'll get those both working perfectly," he said.

We had a second expert look over things. Jeff Mays owns Deluxe Door Systems; his company has an A-plus rating with the BBB. "Everything here's in perfect working order. I wouldn't change a thing," Mays said.

What about the likelihood of the garage doors falling off the rollers and killing somebody? "There's no chance," Mays said.

Sussi questioned the tech about his findings. "You told her if she doesn't replace the rollers the garage door could fall land kill somebody?
"There's a chance it could happen, yes."

Sussi told the tech he watched everything, and knows he didn't inspect the rollers or overhead unit. "Where did you watch me from," asked the tech. Sussi said, "we've got hidden cameras throughout this whole garage. You got caught trying to sell her a bunch of stuff she didn't need."

The tech responded, "it's my job, sir."

Sussi asked, "it's your job to cheat people?"

"It's not my job to cheat people," he said. "That's what you were going to do," replied Sussi. "Not necessarily," said the tech.

Here's what happened at our second sting house.

The tech spotted a bolt we loosened on the overhead unit's stabilizing arm that prevented the door from properly working. It's a simple fix, but it doesn't stop him from trying to sell the homeowner other parts and services.

"You could use new rollers," he said. On top of that, he said the overhead opener can use a tune-up too. "$150.00 and that's lube and tune, and rollers," he told the homeowner.

Mays with Deluxe Door Systems said it wouldn't hurt to get some new ball-bearing rollers. "They make the doors work a lot smoother, make your opener last longer."

What the overhead unit doesn't need, said Mays, is a lube and tune. "Your opener's in very good shape. I see it's fairly new."

Sussi confronted the tech about his recommendations, but the tech declined to answer any of our questions, and drove off.

Here's what happened at our third and final sting house.

The tech noticed the sensor is out of position, but instead of telling the home owner it's just a loose nut, he told them "It's a safely eye issue. It's telling this computer - the motherboard - that there's something wrong."

He also said we could use new springs. Total tab for re-programming the unit's motherboard, and installing new springs? $450.00.

Our expert says there's nothing wrong with the springs.

"The springs have been replaced with the proper springs I should say," said Mays. "The door is perfectly balanced."

Likewise, Mays said the sensors and motherboard are both working fine. "I wouldn't change a thing."

When Sussi confronted the tech he admitted we don't need new springs.

"I just said it was an option for the springs."

One of the techs told the Investigators he makes most of his money off commission. If so, it might explain why some of the techs are pushing services and parts their customers don't need.

The Investigators made several calls to the company's main office in California. A person who identified himself as a customer services representative called us back, but refused to answer any specific questions about the company or its employees.

If you need the services of a garage door company, the BBB suggest getting at least three estimates.

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