I have a Home Improvement/Painting business, and Angie's List always advertises that that everyone is out to get them. Of course there are people who try to take advantage of homeowners My reputation and repeat business is based on word of mouth. Shoddy work is always a way to get put out of business quick. As far as strictly painting, preparation is a big factor in getting a quality paint job. If you don't prepare the surfaces you are painting you are spinning your wheels, and wasting money, no matter what paint you use. Getting a deposit from a customer is beneficial, but not always necessary. Sometimes it is a godsend, when you get stuck by the customer, which has happened to me more than once
I used to work at Sherwin Williams. The best thing to do is specify that you will purchase your own paint. If the painter objects strenuously, he was plaanning on making money in the ways this article outlines. You might pay a few dollars more for paint, but you will have control of the quality of what goes on your walls. Never skimp on paint quality.
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Sorry it is difficult to trust almost anyone in the trades. It is easier to do the work myself and not deal with strangers in and around my house. When I have to hire someone I tell them up front that I'll be checking every detail, pay extra to purchase the materials myself, and if they don't want the job - well good! I always fine someone who will work with me as I pay a bonus for that.
Back to the article. You can add water to all latex based paints / thinner to oil based paint. The tinting base has absolutely nothing to do with it. Say you are working outside and throughout the day you have to add a little water to keep the same consistency. If somebody really tried to add 20% to 50% water they no longer would be painting they'd be performing a whitewash or pickle finish.