9 Signs of a Sketchy Scrap Yard

If you’re a metal scrapper, then you know that finding a good scrap yard is key to making money. But not all scrap yards are created equal. Some scrap yards are downright sketchy, and it’s essential to be able to spot them before you waste your time (and energy) interacting with them.

For decades, some “bad apple” scrap yards made a bad name for the industry. Today, we will show you signs that a scrap yard might be unworthy of your trust and why you should avoid it.

About Scrap Yards

Let’s start with the basics. A scrap yard is where people can take their scrap metal to be recycled. Most scrap yards are legitimate businesses and provide an essential service to the community. However, it’s not because a business’ paperwork is so that they can’t be out to get you.

There are a few different types of scrap yards. There are government-operated scrap yards, commercial scrap yards, and private scrap yards. Each has advantages and disadvantages, but you’ll generally be dealing with private and commercial scrap yards.

What Are The Signs of a Sketchy Scrapyard?

Now that you know a little bit more about scrap yards, let’s get into the signs of a sketchy scrap yard. Depending on where you live, some of these may be more or less important to you. But in general, you want to avoid scrap yards that exhibit any of these signs.

No price on their website

The first red flag in scrapping is the lack of transparency. It is made evident that a company is not being transparent when they do not have their prices on their websites. It is difficult to know how much you will get paid for your metals, but it also makes it difficult to compare rates between companies.

A good and reputable company will always list its prices on its website so potential customers can prepare ahead of time and know what to expect. Also, if there is no reference price, how will you know if you are being offered a fair price or not?

If the company is not being transparent about its prices, it is likely hiding something. And in the world of scrapping, you don’t want to work with a company hiding something.


No website

Even sketchier than a company that doesn’t list its prices on its website is a company that doesn’t have a website. In this day and age, every business should have some sort of online presence. 

A scrap yard should be registered with the government as a business. And if it’s not, that’s a clear sign that you should avoid it. You might get slightly better prices from a company that doesn’t pay taxes, but it’s not worth the risk.

The quality of the scrap yard’s website is also essential. Another issue is that the website is poorly designed and cheaply made. It means the company is not investing in its customer experience, which is not a good sign. 

There are some exceptions to this rule. For example, some small-town family-run businesses may not have or need a website. They might not need one if they are the only scrap yard in town. 

Social media presence

The next sign of a sketchy scrap yard is a lack of social media presence. A legitimate business should have a social media account, whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. This is another way for companies to connect with potential and current customers.

Social media is a great way to connect with other customers and get first-hand reviews of a company. A company with no social media accounts is terrible at marketing, or it’s not a legitimate business. In either case, you don’t want to deal with them.

If a scrap yard has social media accounts, check them out before you do business with them. See how they caption their content and respond to comments to get a feel for the brand’s personality.

You also want to see how often they post. Suppose they haven’t posted in months. It means they are not very invested or don’t have many customers. In either case, you might want to look elsewhere for a scrap yard.

Note that social media marketing is a strategy that not all businesses decide to use, but it’s a good indicator of their legitimacy when they do.

Won’t give prices over the phone

Another sign of a sketchy scrap yard won’t give you prices over the phone. This issue is again related to transparency. If a company is unwilling to provide you with prices over the phone, it’s likely because they are not being transparent about their pricing.

Remember, a reputable company will always list its prices on its website. And if you can’t find the prices on the website or the company refuses to give you prices over the phone, that’s a red flag. You don’t want to be taken advantage of or ripped off, so it’s important to know what you’re getting into before doing business with a scrap yard.

Some of them will hope that because you made the drive out there, you’ll be more likely to sell to them no matter the price. But don’t fall for it! If a company is not upfront about its prices, it’s not worth your time or effort.


And transparency extends beyond pricing. A reputable company will also be transparent about its policies, procedures, and expectations. There should be no last-minute surprises or changes.

For example, a good scrap yard will have a clear policy on what materials they accept. They will also have a process for how they weigh (the type of scale) and pay for the materials. And they will make it clear to customers what their expectations are.

On the other hand, a sketchy scrap yard might not have any of this information listed on its website. Or, it might be listed in fine print that’s easy to miss. In either case, knowing what you’re getting into is essential before you do business with a scrap yard.

The bottom line is that you want to work with an honest company and upfront about its prices, policies, and procedures. You don’t want to be taken advantage of or tricked, so it’s important to know what you’re getting into before doing business with a scrap yard.

Poor Google reviews

Reading reviews is one of the best ways to gauge a company’s legitimacy. And in today’s Internet, that means reading Google reviews. A quick Google search will reveal everything you need to know about a company.

If a company has mostly negative reviews, that’s a bad sign. It means that other customers have had bad experiences with the company, and you should take their word for it.

A good review is anywhere from 3.7 to 5 stars. Anything below that is cause for concern.

If a company has mostly positive reviews, you’re heading in the right direction. It means that other customers have had good experiences with the company, and you should feel confident doing business with them.

Of course, no company nor customer is perfect, and you might see the occasional negative review. But if the overall ratio is positive, the company has earned its reputation.

Positive reviews mean that other customers have had good experiences with the company, and you should feel confident doing business with them. Scrapping is already stressful enough without having to deal with negativity.

It’s also important to read the reviews carefully. Pay attention to the dates of the thoughts and see if there are any patterns. For example, if a company has all 5-star reviews, but they are all from 4 or 5 years ago, that might not be as significant as a company with 4- or 5-star reviews that are more recent.

Also, reviews do not always represent genuine customer feelings toward a company. For example, a scrap yard with 300+ Google reviews with an average of 4.5 stars is probably a pretty good company. This statement becomes less accurate as of the number of reviews decreases, as fewer fake reviews exist.

Another company with under 100 Google reviews and an average of 5 stars might have some fake reviews. The scrap yard might have paid for these or asked their friends or family to write them. In either case, you must be aware of the possibility of fake reviews when you’re reading them.

Taking material and not giving back

One of the biggest complaints against scrap yards is that they take material from customers and don’t give them the agreed-upon price. This happens more often than you might think, and it’s one of the surest signs of a sketchy scrap yard.

Also called the bait and switch, there are a few ways this can happen. The first is when the scrap yard pays you less than the agreed-upon price. For example, their website might state they will pay you $100 per ton of material, but they try to lowball you at $80 per ton when you arrive.

The second way this can happen is when the scrap yard doesn’t give you any money for your material. They might say that the material is worthless or that they don’t need it. That is not what you want to happen, as you’ve just given away your material for free.

To avoid this bait and switch, ensure you get a price quote in writing before you take your material to the scrap yard. This way, you have something to hold them accountable for if they try to pull a fast one on you.

If you are in an irresolvable situation, the best thing to do is leave and find another scrap yard. There are plenty of honest companies, so don’t waste your time haggling with a sketchy one.

Infrequent price changes

Imagine if the stock market only changed prices once a month. It would be pretty hard to make any money, right? The same goes for scrap yards. If they don’t change their prices frequently, it’s a sign that they are not keeping up with the market.

Copper, steel, and other metals are commodities, so their prices fluctuate frequently. A good scrap yard will change its prices at least once a week, if not more. This way, they can stay competitive and make sure they are paying their customers a fair price.

If a scrap yard doesn’t change its prices often, it’s terrible news. It means they are not keeping up with the market or trying to rip you off. In either case, you should not give them your hard-earned cash.

If you’re looking to monitor prices yourself, you can use an app like iScrap to see the market price and the one different scrap yards are paying. This way, you can always ensure you’re getting a fair price for your material.

Awful customer service

We’re not saying that junkyard workers need to be your best friends, but they should at least be polite and respectful. If you’re treated like garbage when you call or visit a scrap yard, it’s a sign that the company is not interested in its customers.

A good scrap yard will have friendly and helpful customer service. From the moment you drive up, you should be greeted by a worker who is happy to help you. They should answer your questions and ensure you’re getting the best price for your material.

If you’re treated rudely or with indifference, it’s a sign that the scrap yard doesn’t place enough emphasis on the client experience. For example, waiting your turn is pretty typical at a scrap yard. But you should never feel like you’re being ignored.

Another common problem at scrap yards is haggling over prices. If the scrap yard team member tries to lowball you or haggle over the price, it’s a sign that they are not thinking about giving you a fair price.

In short, if the customer service at a scrap yard is terrible, it’s a good idea to take your business elsewhere. Many other companies would love to have your business, so don’t waste your time with one that doesn’t appreciate its customers.

Issues with payment

Let’s say you found a scrap yard that met all the above requirements. You took your material there, interacted well with the staff, and were promised a fair price. But then you run into issues with getting paid.

There are a few different ways this can happen. The first is if the scrap yard doesn’t pay you on time. They might say they will wire the money to your bank account or send you a check within a week, but it takes them multiple weeks or more. 

Scrap yards should not need installments or delayed payments. If you’re being asked to wait for your money, it’s a sign that the scrap yard is having financial issues and might not be able to pay you.

Safety concerns

Working with scrap yards can be dangerous, as you deal with heavy machinery and materials. A good scrap yard will take safety seriously and have procedures to protect its workers and customers.

If you see piles of unsorted or disorganized material on the main roads, it’s a sign that the scrap yard is not being maintained. This lack of care can lead to accidents, as workers and customers could trip over loose material or get hurt by falling debris.

Another safety concern is if the scrap yard doesn’t have the proper signage. It might seem like a small detail, but it’s vital for everyone involved. Signs should be in place to warn people of potential hazards, like loose material or dangerous machinery.

Visit our blog section to find our article on safety guidelines in junkyards.

How To Find a Good Scrap Yard Near You

That’s it! By avoiding scrap yards that exhibit any of the above signs, you can ensure that you’re working with a reputable and trustworthy company. Of course, it’s not always easy to find a good scrap yard. If you’re unsure where to start, we recommend checking out iScrap.

We have a directory of scrap yards across the country that our team has vetted. You can search for yards near you and read reviews from other customers to find the best one for your needs. We make sure that every one of the businesses in our directory meets our high standards.

Of course, we also offer a wide range of services to make your life easier. We can help you find the best prices for your material, get car quotes, and even arrange the sale of catalytic converters.

If you’re looking for a hassle-free way to sell scrap metal, iScrap is the way to go. Download the app today to get started!


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