Update from Ralph Bristol Morning News - BBB Middle Tennessee can be heard Fridays at 7:35am on the Ralph Bristol Nashville Morning News, WTN 99.7 (FM Radio)
Tree Trimmer Services...
Don’t fall for the scammers
Summer thunderstorms and lots of heavy rains have many homeowners waking up to wet basements, leaky roofs toppled trees & falling tree limbs that require tree trimming and removal services. Unfortunately for the legitimate tree service companies, the industry is full of fly by night crooks.
BBB offers a few insights that will help homeowners select the right company and avoid tree service scammers.
- INSURANCE: Confirm that the company has liability and workers compensation insurance. Ask for certificates of insurance to be sent from the company’s insurance agency directly to you. Otherwise it could be a fraudulent certificate. WARNING: If a uninsured company has an accident and does not have the proper insurance, you are liable, meaning you have to pay for repairs to your property and any injuries that are a result of the accident.
- CHECK WITH BBB: GOBBB.ORG and confirm the company is accredited with the Better Business Bureau. Not all tree services receive BBB accreditation. IF NOT BBB ACCREDITED find out what kind of rating the company has, how long the company has been in business and ask for references. The tree service should have a favorable Rating with BBB
- INDUSTRY REPUTATION: . Check to see whether the company is a member of any reputable trade association, such as the Tree Care Industry Association or International Society of Arboriculture.
- PRICE SEEMS TO CHEAP? TO HIGH? It’s always good business to get multiple estimates to get some sense of what price is normal but make sure you are comparing apples to apples. The cheapest price is not always the best option.
- COMPARING APPLES TO APPLES: When comparing different estimates you should compare what is actually being offered.
- Example, one tree service plans on felling the tree, it’s easier and requires less time, but can cause more damage to your property
- another tree service will remove it in small sections, piecing a tree down in small sections will cause minimal damage to your yard, but requires more time and effort and is generally the more expensive service.
- Does the estimate include removing limbs, tree sections and debris?
- JUST SAY NO TO DOOR TO DOOR TREE TRIMMERS: Door to door contractors are often con artists that travel from town to town, preying on homeowners, particularly seniors. If you simply make it a policy not to do business with them, you will not have to worry about being caught in a scam. Besides, deciding to complete tree work on the spur of the moment is not a good idea – there are too many variables that must be carefully considered first.
- CAUTION IN EMERGENCY AND DISASTERS: Unfortunately, this may be the one instance where hiring a door-to-door contractor is necessary. If, for example, you have a tree lying on your house you may have to hire a tree service that passes by. But even in this situation, make sure you are being charged a reasonable price. There are many examples of companies charging exorbitant rates for simple tree removal projects after a severe storm or tornado.
- PAY WHEN SATISFIED: The most important rule to follow is never NEVER pay for a tree removal or tree trimming service until you are 100% satisfied with the work. There are countless instances of homeowners paying for a tree service project up front, only to never hear from the company again. The tree service industry is not like the building industry – the company never under any circumstance needs to be paid in advance for work.
- SCAMMER TRICKS: One popular trick among disreputable tree services is to begin a project, collect money for any number of reasons – “I have to pay my crew”, “we need money for fuel”, “the equipment broke down” and then never return. This is especially true in emergency situations
REMEMBER THE BASICS....
ASK FOR THE NECESSARY INSURANCE CERTIFICATES & SAY NO PAYING UP FRONT
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The BBB of Middle Tennessee, Inc. was founded in 1961 as a non-profit Tennessee organization serving 38 counties in Middle Tennessee and 7 counties in Southern Kentucky. The first BBB was founded in 1912. Today, BBBs serve communities across the U.S. and Canada.
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