Magazine article USA TODAY

Buyer Beware When Purchasing Tree Care

Magazine article USA TODAY

Buyer Beware When Purchasing Tree Care

Article excerpt

Summer wind storms, though damaging, often can bring out the best in a community. Neighbors, even strangers, help each other cope with aggravations and property damage left in the wake of a storm. However, storms also bring out the worst in a community--fast-buck artists looking to profit from the misfortunes of others. How can homeowners protect themselves when they need to hire a tree care company to clean up after a storm?

"With thousands of dollars at stake, as well as the integrity and appearance of your property and your personal safety, make sure you investigate before deciding which company you should hire," warns Tchukki Andersen, staff arborist with the Tree Care Industry Association, Londonderry, N.H.

If the "professional arborist" you hired to remove a tree drops it on your house instead of your lawn, it is too late to confirm the company is insured, cautions Andersen. "Disreputable companies are renowned for ripping gutters off, breaking fences and bird baths, and even dropping trees on houses. Then they typically fold up and leave, never to be seen again."

These companies tend to solicit work door-to-door; demand payment in advance; advertise tree-topping pruning practices; and sell jobs without producing a written estimate or work order.

When looking for a reputable company, start with an Internet search of tree care companies in your area. Do not place too much emphasis on the complexity of the company's website; some of the most reputable firms rely almost entirely on word-of-mouth advertising. …

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