GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. - With temperatures warming up and the longer sunlight hours, we'll soon be looking to get our lawns and yards in shape after the long winter. Dan Hendrickson from the Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota joined the KARE 11 News at 4 with some tips for avoiding getting ripped off by unscrupulous yard clean up crews.
1. Warmer temperatures are here, finally. People are looking to get back out in their lawns and start cleanup after the winter months – what should they be aware of?
They should know that BBB hears regularly about situations where questionable tree trimming service companies will knock on doors and say they’re in the neighborhood and are willing to work at a reduced rate.
2. And that might sound good – but what happens then?
What happens then is that they collect payment upfront. And they usually ask for modest amounts of money. Anywhere from a couple of hundred to several hundred dollars. Then they often do some work. Maybe they trim some branches or pile up fallen branches and limbs and say they’ll be back the next day to finish up. But guess what? That’s often the last homeowners see of them.
3. What should homeowners do?
First, they can be proactive. If they’re looking to have a tree trimming company or yard service come do some work, then do your research at www.bbb.org. See what their track record has been and how they’ve responded to complaints in the past if they’ve had complaints. Ask for references and then follow up on those references.
4. What other steps can homeowners take to protect themselves?
If someone’s standing on your doorstep ask if they have their solicitor’s permit – if they need one. A lot of cities have rules saying door-to-door salespeople must have a solicitor’s permit. Also, ask for a photo ID. A lot of cities are moving towards mandating that solicitors wear photo ID badges. From there, take a look at their truck. Is it marked? If it’s just a standard truck and not a company truck…who knows who you’re dealing with? And even if they have a company truck, make sure they are who they say they are. And just because they’re there now, on your doorstep, that doesn’t mean you can’t ask them to come back after you’ve done your research.
5. Any other tips?
Get everything in writing and agree to a price before work begins. The companies that promise to work cheap…well, you often get what you pay for. And there are also times when consumers have been told this and then at the end of the process they’re handed a bill that’s greatly inflated. Also, all people that do tree trimming or brush removal in Minnesota should be listed with Minnesota’s Tree Care Registry. Finally, if you have problems contact BBB. You can file a complaint at www.bbb.org.