St. Louis, Mo., May 21, 2013 – Homeowners say they feel betrayed by the operators of a Jefferson County lawn care business who set up a new company and then refused to honor agreements with the former firm, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) warns.
The business, at 6981 Old Highway 21 in Barnhart, previously was known as GreenPrint Lawn Care. Several months ago, the location began doing business as Service Pro Companies. Records with the Missouri Secretary of State show that Service Pro Companies owns Lawn Pro Turf Maintenance, Holiday Pro and ProScapes Landscape Maintenance.
Frank J. Ray of Hillsboro is listed as the owner/organizer of both GreenPrint and Service Pro. Service Pro’s general manager, Chad McFarland, is the former manager of GreenPrint.
McFarland insists that the companies are “completely different” and said the BBB and consumers should not link the two.
“It’s not ethical to put us with GreenPrint,” McFarland said. He said that any past consumer complaints involving Greenprint should not reflect on Service Pro.
But Michelle Corey, BBB president and CEO, said a company that has disappointed customers “shouldn’t expect to escape its past simply by changing its identity.
“A good business will confront its complaints head on, not try to hide from them,” she said.
Service Pro and GreenPrint have an “F” rating with the BBB, the lowest possible. The BBB has logged more than 60 complaints and reports against the companies in the past 36 months.
In February, the BBB notified Ray of a pattern of complaints against GreenPrint, noting allegations of poor customer service, service that was paid for but not provided, problems contacting the firm and difficulty getting requested refunds.
A BBB investigator who visited the offices in Barnhart noted that the large sign on the front identifies the location as GreenPrint, but a smaller sign on the door identifies it as Service Pro. McFarland said the GreenPrint sign would be replaced soon.
McFarland said about 30 percent of Service Pro’s employees formerly worked at GreenPrint.
A homeowner from Imperial, Mo., said her family contracted with GreenPrint in April 2012, paying the company $326 for a year of services. The services were to include fertilization, weed control, aeration and seeding. She said GreenPrint workers seeded too late last fall and the grass never germinated. She said she contacted the office about reseeding her yard this spring, but McFarland refused, saying GreenPrint was a different company.
“We’re not asking for our money back,” the homeowner said. “We just want them to do what they said they were going to do. They should take care of me.”
A homeowner from Affton who previously had contracted with GreenPrint, said a company representative contacted him last spring and asked about performing additional tree trimming and spraying work on his property. The man said neither he nor his wife authorized the work, but they discovered a $430 credit card charge a few days later. He said no work was ever done, and he has been trying to get a refund for the past year.
“Quite honestly, I’ve given up,” he said. “At the same time, I don’t want (the company) to keep doing this to people.”
Another homeowner from South St. Louis County said he paid GreenPrint for aeration and seeding that was not honored by Service Pro. “I basically threw $275 out the window,” he said.
Sean Livingston, who identified himself as the lead investor/owner of Service Pro, said that he is in the midst of what has turned into a months-long attempt to purchase GreenPrint’s business from Ray. He said he started what is now Service Pro and its related businesses in December 2012. He could not explain why Ray is listed as the only organizer of Service Pro.
Livingston blamed GreenPrint’s customer problems on poor management and growth that outstripped the company’s ability to handle the workload.
“He got in over his head, to be honest with you,” Livingston said of Ray. Livingston said that he agreed to purchase the assets and customer base of GreenPrint in an effort to expand his own, smaller lawn care business.
Livingston described the situation as “a grave that’s been dug. And I’ve walked right into it.”
He promised to take care of customer complaints filed against GreenPrint.
The BBB offers these tips to consumers looking to hire a lawn service company:
Contacts (News Media Only): Michelle Corey, President & CEO, 314-645-0606, firstname.lastname@example.org, or Chris Thetford, Vice President-Communications, 314-584-6743, email@example.com, or Bill Smith, Trade Practice Investigator, 314-584-6727, firstname.lastname@example.org
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