A Letter From Georgia
My husband found your website and thought I should post my experience for the benefit of those in need of a tree removal service. Hopefully no one will ever have to repeat our nightmare.
Our experience involves a nationally advertised brand that claims to “advise” you on local pros to hire for projects around the “home”. These clues must suffice as we will never speak nor write this company’s actual name again.
After several consecutive days of rain, a tree fell on our garage tearing off roofing shingles and the gutters on its way down. When it finally settled, the tree was blocking our cars from getting out of the garage. The fallen tree blocked the driveway preventing us from getting to work, so I searched for a tree removal service online and the very first listing was an ad that boasted same day service from a local professional tree removal service.
I clicked the ad and entered our information. Within a few minutes a guy called and announced he was the “preferred local tree service”. Immediately, he requested that I reply to a text that stated “I hereby choose his tree company for the project”.
I hesitated. “Listen up ma’am”, he said, “you got to understand, tree removal is a cutthroat business, and tree company guys will lie and cheat to steal my jobs. I need your promise in writing that if I am going to invest the time to come out there, I will get the work. Look at it this way, I just paid fifty bucks to get your information and I can’t afford to invest both money and time in something that doesn’t pay for itself. That’s bad business! So, you need you to text me back your acceptance that my company is doing the work! Right now please.” I replied, “There must be some mistake, the commercial said using the site is free.” He growled over the phone at me and yelled, “free for you, we pay fifty bucks a throw, get it?”
We had not even discussed the cost of the tree removal and already demanded I agree to hire him. But he seemed to be growing angry as he spoke and I know I was growing afraid, so I instinctively ended the call. I stood there trembling a moment doing my best to process what had just happened and what was likely to happen next. I received a text which read, “OK, I am almost there. Just reply to my text so we can move forward.” My text-tone sounded again, “Now please!”
I imagined the trouble of changing my cell phone number and having to explain to all of my contacts why I have a new number.
Before I could react to the text, my doorbell rang. My heart stopped. I began praying that my husband was out of the shower and would be in the correct frame of mind to deal with all this. Peeking between the blinds I could see three enormous men standing in our driveway. Suddenly they began arguing loudly about how to remove the tree. It was like a bad dream! I wondered how they got my information so fast and how many more people would arrive at my home. This is not what I wanted! Images began to play out in my mind as to what would happen when the angry man I spoke with arrived and found another tree service already at my home. I had no idea these people were being charged to estimate services, I could understand how this could become a free-for-all.
My phone rang again, and the caller id read private number. I suddenly realized that as of this morning shady people had my name and number, who, for whatever reason, hid their own from me. This was the first time I had ever received a call from a private number. I didn’t answer. My phone rang again and again. So I went to the bathroom where my husband was drying off and told him I made a terrible mistake. He could plainly see I was distressed. He threw on some clothes and went to the front door. At this point the men had resorted to knocking on our windows with a metal tool since the doorbell had gone unanswered for several minutes.
As my husband opened the door a man on the porch gleefully barked, “Looks like your trapped!”
“Does it?” my husband answered. “Gonna be about fifteen hundred to get that tree out of the way though.”
My husband asked the man speaking for the name of their company. “We take cash, checks or credit cards but, we have add ten percent to process cards, so you’re better off paying cash!” the man answered. My husband looked at me through the window and shrugged his shoulders and replied, “Great, thanks, we’ll be in touch if we decide to do the work.”
“Whoa buddy! Don’t appear you got no choice but to do the work pal, so we’ll settle for twelve hundred if you pay in cash up front, OK?.” Just like schoolyard bullies, the men began walking quickly toward my husband. My husband ducked inside the side door for a moment and asked me how I found these guys. When I explained what the first guy told me, my husband realized the reason everyone was so aggressive was because the supposed “free site” was charging every townie with a pick-up truck in Roswell fifty dollars for our estimate request.
“God knows who else they are selling our information to. The whole thing is just a scam! These guys are not professionals – they would not even tell me the name of their company. No business card no lettered shirts, two are sporting prison tattoos!” my husband was perplexed and doing his best to appear unafraid. I felt horrible that I had brought this upon us.
We considered calling the police to file a report, but feared the retribution. This was nothing like the “local pros” seen in the TV commercials. Meanwhile my phone had not stopped ringing. I turned the ringer off and the phone vibrated in silently in hand while we discussed what to do now. My phone received a notice that my voice mailbox was full which had also never happened before. My heart was pounding! I felt as though we were being invaded.
My husband decided the only way out of this horrible mess was to allow this company to do the work and tell everyone else who called or arrived that we were terribly sorry, but the job had already been completed.
We kept one thousand dollars cash for emergencies in the house, my husband collected the money and returned to the driveway. “Can you get the tree out for a thousand dollars cash?” my husband asked.
The man was suddenly preoccupied with his smart phone, but after ten seconds or so of ignoring my husband’s question, he looked up, smiled, nodded and took the money. “OK, just let us get our stuff and get started.” The men walked down our driveway laughing and handing each other a portion of the emergency fund that had taken us almost a year to save. Then they got into a rusty old truck and drove away.
I was jumping up and down and pointing at the men driving away through the window as my husband approached from the walkway. Once inside, he assured me that the men were just getting their tools and would return to do the work in a few minutes. Deep down I think we both knew better.
By this time at least five other tree services had called using private numbers, and I advised each that the work had been completed. A few simply ended the call upon hearing the news, but two were unspeakably rude. I considered making a voice mail that announced the tree work had been cancelled, but first I had to call my office to let them know that I would be late.
An hour or so passed and the tree guys my husband paid had not returned to remove the tree as promised. We were completely nauseated! For a diversion from our dilemma, my husband went to the garage to look for a pruning saw and stumbled across an old AT&T Yellow Pages directory. He set it on the kitchen table and we looked up tree services. We felt instant relief using the same old tried and true resource as our parents and grandparents had used. We found an ad for Roswell Tree Removal in the dusty directory that was so old it was literally coming apart.
As my husband began entering the numbers on his phone, he muttered “surely they are out of business by now!” But they were not, they listened to our story and were moved; at least enough that they dispatched a tree removal crew from a nearby job to help us. Exactly one hour after calling them we were backing our cars down the driveway and realizing our lives had been restored and the ordeal was over. We have notified every authority we could think of from the local police, the FCC and even the state attorney general. They all had the same advice, never use that service again and inform everyone we know.
The best advice is to locate a reputable company within the local listings, get two estimates and check their references.