Beware of Tree Trimming Service Scams

There are many skilled, ethical, hard-working tree trimming services out there.  Unfortunately, there are also many tree trimming companies that are scams or operate under poor business practices.  Bad winter storms tend to bring out those so-called businesses, offering their services before you even consider the need for a tree trimmer.
In many instances, these scammers prey on those who are more vulnerable to high-pressure sales tactics, such as the elderly.  Sometimes, they will use “scare tactics” to “warn” the homeowner of damage or even higher insurance premiums.  Once the tree service takes a deposit to “fix” the problem, then he or she will take the money without finishing the job.
As we finish winter and head into spring, also known as tornado season in some parts of the country, we are taking a look at how to avoid the scams and hire someone you can trust.
Here are some red flags that the company may not be legit:
- You did not call the serve; a service man or woman just showed up.
- He or she insists on being paid up front.
- He or she does not have local information, such as an address, business license, etc.
- You cannot find any information about him or her in the Yellow Pages, online search engines, etc.
- He or she avoids providing documentation of insurance, training, referrals, etc.
- He or she recommends topping the tree.
- He or she does not supply a written estimate and work proposal.
Reputable tree specialists are trained in safety practices, tree care, and good business.  They are happy to show you their proof of insurance, recommendations, and industry certifications.  They know that this can be a big selling point, so do not hesitate to ask.  They will write up an estimate and/or a work proposal.  This is a contract that will protect both the customer and the service provider and make sure everyone understands the job.
Companies that have been around for a while will have an established name, address, and reputation.  Even new tree trimming services have an online presence or listing in the Yellow Pages.  Young companies are eager to prove themselves, and will therefore work to provide you with references and qualifications.  Check online for the business name and telephone number.  Consumers often voice their complaints on the Internet and warn the public of scams.  The Better Business Bureau is another great resource.  They will show complaints and a rating of service.
Remember, you are hiring this company.  If you were hiring an employee for your own business or to work in your home, you would require a resume and references.  Tree trimming services are no different.  A good company is happy to have you check them out.