For Greene County News
COLUMBUS — Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine is warning consumers about tree-trimming service scams, his office announced in a recent press release. In the past year, DeWine’s office has received more than 50 tree-trimming complaints, most of which involved a door-to-door or word-of-mouth solicitation.
“If a tree trimmer comes to your door and wants to cut down your trees right away, be careful. It could be a scam,” DeWine said in the release. “Under Ohio law, most door-to-door sellers, including tree trimmers, must give you a three-day right to cancel and must wait until that period ends before starting the work. Don’t trust a tree trimmer who doesn’t honor your rights under the law.”
Consumer complaints often follow a typical pattern, according to DeWine’s office.
“A tree trimmer comes to the consumer’s door while passing through the neighborhood,” the release stated. “He offers a competitive price for his services, takes payment in cash or check, and then cuts down a few trees in the consumer’s yard, leaving the stumps in the ground and the limbs strewn on the lawn.
“Then the tree trimmer leaves, promising to return to complete the job once he secures additional equipment or once the weather improves. Despite these promises, the tree trimmer never returns to finish the work.”
Often, consumer victims are elderly and some may have dementia. The tree trimmer may try to scare the consumer into thinking the trees are damaged, diseased, or dangerous and should be removed immediately. Although the tree trimmer typically represents himself as a professional and draws up a contract, the contract is often incomplete and fails to mention the consumer’s cancellation rights.
Signs of a scam include a tree trimmer who: comes to the door unexpectedly; claims trees are damaged, diseased, or dangerous; uses a handwritten, incomplete contract; fails to notify consumers of their cancellation rights; requires a large down payment; accepts only cash or check; drives an unmarked vehicle; starts work immediately; and performs incomplete or shoddy work.
Consumers are advised to protect themselves by researching the business, getting a second opinion and paying with a credit card.