This is being posted for the benefit of Texas Inspectors to help you better understand if those “FREE” things you advertise to your clients are illegal or not. This is being posted here for the benefit of all Texas Inspectors and not just INACHI members.
In the INACHI private section a post is ongoing where a Vendor of services and products is selling his wares to Inspectors and telling them to advertise it as a “Free” thing but to add the cost of that item into their inspection fee that the Inspector is charging the consumer. The vendor is claiming that it will significantly boost your business by offering this Free" thing to the consumer. In fact through the Vendor’s own admission this “Free” thing is actually not “FREE”!
During this discussion I took the opportunity to send an RFI to TREC requesting clarification if an Inspector is violating any law and rule by claiming the thing is “Free” and yet padding their inspection fee by the amount it cost them to buy it? With blinding speed TREC responded back and I was very impressed with the response time! According to TREC this practice can fall under a violation of Section 535.221, Advertisements. Even though TREC did not state the other sections I asked about if you violated that section then you obviously have violated various parts of Section 535.220, Professional Conduct and Ethics.
If you are an Inspector that is advertising any type of “Free” thing that you are paying for in any way, that includes non-monetary payments of any kind or type, I would highly advise that you contact TREC and provide them ALL of the details of the program and “Free” thing you are advertising to consumers. Ask them to make a specific ruling on your details and “Free” thing offering. If TREC blesses your “Free” offering then go for it and good luck! If TREC rules against it then obviously you need to consider stopping the program. I can not see TREC trying to penalize you for anything you bring forth if you are doing this in good faith and in the interst of ethical operations. I have requested in the past a number of potential offerings plans to them when I was not sure and they are nothing short of helpful and in no interest to penalize for getting the information to run legally.
This is also being posted for the benefit of any consumer out there that is reading this post as well. Part of the Law and Rules for licensed Inspectors is to act ethically when dealing with consumers and act to protect their best interest and not the Inspector’s best interest. Nothing is “Free” and there is always a catch! At the very least you will be providing the approval for an Inspector to basically sell your personal contact information for marketing purposes for the benefit to get that “Free” thing. At the worst your Inspection fee is being increased at least by the amount the Inspector is paying for that “Free” thing and possibly even much more as advocated by the Vendor discussed above. The rule, as always, is Caveat Emptor or “Buyer Beware”!