1. The Tulsa painter does not have a website or other online presence.
This isn't always the case, but is a good rule of thumb. If there is absolutely no sign of this painter online or there isn't a website, this could be a sign that your painter isn't reputable. Reputable and ethical painters spend the time and money it takes to have a good looking website to represent them.
When you go to the painters website, check to see if it is comprehensive or just a few pages thrown together quickly. You can tell how long a website has been online by checking with http://www.archive.org. You can see exactly when their website was created and how it has changed over the years. If the website is brand new then you should be careful about hiring this painter.
2. The painter shows up in a truck or car without signs or company information
Magnetic signs are cheap these days. You can buy them for less than $20 online so just because the painter has a sign doesn't mean he is reputable. The reverse is true as well. If a painter doesn't have a sign it means that he can't be bothered to spend the few minutes and few dollars to have one made. The painter is probably cheap (watch out for this, they may cut corners on your job to save a few bucks), or is trying to hide something.
If there is no sign or lettering, painting is probably not the full time job of the painter in question. A professional, full time, painter will take the time to get signs for their trucks.
3. The Tulsa painter hesitates when asked for proof of insurance
This is a big one. Hack painters will often skimp on the insurance. If you ask a painter to provide insurance and they give you an excuse, run the other way. It is very important that painters carry liability and workers comp insurance. If the painter replies with anything other than, "I'll send a copy of my insurance with the proposal," or "Sure, here you go," it is a sign that something is up.
4. The painter doesn't give professional digital or printed estimates.
It is an old cliche but if you get an estimate on the back of a napkin, watch out. These days it is standard procedure to either, print up the estimate in the truck, or send the estimate to your email. If the painter is writing estimates on paper you should be wary. Of course, paper estimates aren't entirely old news. If it is professional and clearly written with a clear defined scope of work, you should be fine. Just take into account how long the painter took to write it up. A quick guess / estimate should be avoided. It may mean that the painter doesn't know what he is doing. Tulsa Painting Estimates.
5. The Tulsa painter can't provide previous client references or testimonials.
This is another huge one. Client references are really the only way you can know if the painter does a good job. A reference from a friend is even better, but if you hire someone you don't know, check out their references. A painter that does a great job for their clients will have a list of reference that you can call or even drive by to see their work. If the painter can't or won't provide this list, beware. Tulsa Painting Testimonials
6. The painter badmouths or puts down other painters in the area.
This is simply unprofessional. It is a sign that the painter doesn't take the trade seriously. If the painter is unprofessional when it comes to this, they may be unprofessional when it comes to painting your house.
7. The painter requires a large up front deposit before he begins work
This is really a question of how much you trust the painter. Of course there are no hard and fast rules about how much of a deposit is required. It is standard to ask for enough to cover materials at the beginning of the job, say 20% or so. But don't pay a huge up front deposit. It is also fairly standard on large jobs to require progress payments. If the painter will be on your job for more than it a week they may ask for a partial payment each week or at certain progress points. This is normal, just be wary if the painter want 50% or more up front. They may walk away leaving you holding the bill.
8. The Tulsa painter is willing to lower the price for a "cash" payment.
Painters and contractors will do this because they are trying to cheat the system. If you pay in cash, the contractor doesn't have to pay taxes on that money (and they don't pay insurance fees or workers comp on the labor for that job). If you pay in cash and there is an accident, your property may not be covered. A painter that does this is definitely unethical.
9. The price is very low compared to other estimates
Painting takes a lot of time and the materials can cost real money. If a painter gives you a very low quote compared to other painters, it may be sign that they (1) either don't know what they are doing, or (2) are planning on giving you subpar workmanship. It may even be a sign that they are trying to rip you off. If you get a very low price, along with other signs such as no insurance or website, be extra careful. It may be sign that you are being scammed. Its rare but does happen sometimes.
It takes a lot of energy and expense to do a great paint job. If it seems to good to be true, it most likely is.
10. The Tulsa painter is willing to change his prices based on nothing.
If, after you receive the bid, you mention that the price is too high, a professional and respectable painter will try to work with you to get the price into your budget. Of course this means changing the scope of work to reduce the material costs or the labor costs. If a painter lowers his price without adjusting the scope of work, he is probably unethical. It means that the price was artificially high, or that the painter doesn't know how to bid and is just guessing. Either way it means bad news for you.