How do you test the integrity of local businesses? According to the network TV school of investigative reporting, all you need to do is set up a few cameras. That’s the method preferred by Inside Edition, the news program known for exposing the seedy underbelly of American business. The show recently set its sights on a new industry in need of scrutiny: garage door opener installation and repair. They ran their sting operation out of a home in suburban New Jersey; undercover reporter Lisa Guerrero signed on to play the unsuspecting homeowner whose garage door opener is in need of service.
The set up was simple: First, Guerrero and crew tampered with a functional garage door opening system. They asked Andrew Cimmino, Vice President of Northeast Door Association and owner of Christie Overhead Door, to do a full inspection of the rented home’s garage door opener. “This door is in perfect working order,” Cimmino said. “I would not suggest any repairs.” It was Cimmino who adjusted the garage door opener’s sensors until they were out of alignment, preventing the garage door opener from closing the garage door. It’s a common problem, one which is simple to fix. However, Guerrero’s hidden cameras caught not one but two garage door opener techs as they attempted to swindle her out of hundreds of dollars for unnecessary parts and repairs.
Although many repairmen did simply re-align the sensor and charge Guerrero only a service fee, one told her that the problem with her garage door opener was that it needed new springs at a cost of $500. Another went so far as to rip the sensor from its wires (Guerrero excused herself, then watched from a control room) before claiming that he had found it that way. When confronted, the first repairman simply returned to his vehicle. The other maintained his innocence, even when Guerrero told him that cameras had caught his every move.