The storm has passed and now you may have downed trees or tree branches, damaged buildings and building materials that need to be disposed of. Better Business Bureau reminds you to take certain precautions when hiring a tree service or handy man service.
While your main goal is to regain a sense of normalcy after a storm, large or small, do so with the following tips in mind. Be mindful of individuals who knock on your door and offer to clean up. Do some checking first; some of the most common "after-disaster" scams involve clean up after a storm.
- Check with your insurance company about policy coverage and specific filing requirements.
- Don't be pressured into making an immediate decision. Check on companies that show up at your door by calling the BBB at 806/379-6222 or checking online at www.bbb.org/Amarillo. .
- Take time to shop around and get 3-4 estimates.
- Ask if certified arborists, who have professional training and certifications, are on staff. An experienced arborist is particularly important on projects involving large trees or removal of substantial branches on established trees. Check for certification by the International Society of Arboriculture, or by a local certifying body such as a state arborist association.
- Make sure each tree service you are considering has current liability insurance and workers compensation insurance. All certificates of insurance should be sent from the tree service’s insurance agency directly to you.
- Require a written contract agreement with anyone you hire. Be sure their name, address, license number, if applicable, and phone number are included in the contract. Read and understand the contract in its entirety and don’t sign a blank contract. A copy of the signed contract should be given to you at the time of signature. Do not assume that tree stump removal is included in the contract if it is not specified.
- Never pay for a tree removal or tree trimming project of any kind until you are 100% satisfied with the work. Pay by check or credit card only when the job is complete. Paying by credit card provides some recourse should the job not be completed as stated in the contract.
- Make sure branches, trees and vegetative wastes are separated from the other debris before taking them to the area chipping sites.
Ask how the job will be done, and if they will perform the work according to industry standards. If they mention “topping a tree,” “lion’s-tailing” or “using climbing spikes to prune a tree” the company does not follow industry standards. “Topping” is drastically cutting back the major limbs of a tree to reduce its size. “Lion’s tailing” is an extreme stripping out of most of the interior branches of a tree. Such practices can injure or kill your tree. Sometimes these techniques will be presented as a way to save money by removing more of the tree at one time. However a tree pruned by one of these methods usually requires more expensive restoration work in the future in order to save it.
Beware of a tree service that:
- Has no printed materials, letterhead, bid forms, etc.
- Is vague about his formal credentials as an arborist.
- Offers an unusually low price . . . at first.
- Only accepts cash payments, and/or asks for payment up front.
- Pressures you for an immediate decision.
- Offers you a discount to find other customers.
- Claims that your home is unsafe. If you are concerned have an engineer, architect, or building official inspect it.
“Don’t pay money before the work is started and avoid paying all the money before the work is completed,” said Janna Kiehl, BBB CEO. “Beware of companies who won’t give straight answers to your questions.”
Don’t feel forced into making a hasty decision or choosing an unknown tree service. Start With Trust. For reliable information, a list of BBB Accredited Businesses in the tree removal or handy man industries visit www.bbb.org/Amarillo or call 806-379-6222.