Don’t be fooled, be informed!

Dirty tricks that dishonest sign maintenance contractors may execute

While there are many good sign maintenance firms out there, there are always those few cowboys that lurk in the shadows and prey on unsuspecting companies, using classic cons to make a quick buck at your expense.

By being aware of the tricks that dishonest sign maintenance firms could potentially use, and how you can overcome them, you are in a far better position to protect your company’s financial interests.

It is unlikely that even the most dishonest company will have all of the following tricks up its sleeve; however, they have all been used in the industry and will no doubt be used again.

Experience and credentials

It may be common place to make small and insignificant fabrications on a personal C.V – the kind that claim you can use a simple computer package when in fact you can barely manage to turn the computer on – but it is a very different story for a sign maintenance firm to claim false credentials to potential clients. It is this kind of claim that can lead to serious breaches of health and safety regulations, and land the employing company in danger of costly legal repercussions.

Some sign maintenance firms may reel off a list of major brand customers, claiming them to be previous clients, when all they actually did was fix the ‘ladies’ and ‘gents’ signs in the toilets; others may list clients they worked for many years ago.

To protect yourself and your company, it is always advisable to ensure that the sign installation or sign servicing company you employ has relevant, recent and credible work experience.

Fluorescent tube replacement

Fluorescent tubes are used in almost all illuminated signage and require replacing periodically. A common fraud executed in the sign industry occurs when dishonest sign maintenance companies are asked to replace these tubes. Unless you are present to witness the tubes being replaced, how do you know that tubes from the firm’s previous job down the road are not being re-used in yours? It is possible that the components are second-hand, and will need replacing long before the expiration of their design life.

Imagine you have 25 retail outlets, each with four signs needing 40 tubes replacing, the cost of replacing one tube is £5. With prior knowledge of the scam, you could have saved £20,000.


Sign maintenance fims all buy fixings, such as screws, in bulk. Dishonest companies may use this further to their advantage by using fewer fixings than is necessary to hold the component, or by using cheap ferrous fixings which can seize or cause rust streaks.

A further example of cheating with fixings is using silicone to fix signage panel gaps. This is a quick and cheap way to a) make a sign look aesthetically acceptable, b) get off site and move to the next job and c) get paid.

Faulty components

Professional sign maintenance firms will report faulty components as soon as they are discovered; in the long-run this will save you a lot of money. If your operations encompass multiple sites, is imperative to have any faults pointed out to you immediately as a similar problem may be occurring, unbeknown to you, on various other sites across your network.

The above becomes an issue when the less ethical sign maintenance firm who has discovered the fault, covers over it – or in some cases hammers the component back in – to ensure it gets paid on time. To these dishonest companies, a faulty component can mean a delay in job completion, and consequently a delay in payment.

Hopefully this heads-up will help you to be more vigilant when employing a sign contractor to work on your site. There is no need for you to fall victim to any of the scams outlined here.

Be informed, not fooled!