DAYTON — The tree service industry has been a problematic industry for your Better Business Bureau for years. In fact, it has been the fourth most complained about industry at your BBB locally during the first half of this year.
Your BBB has provided consumers with more than 22,200 Business Reviews on companies in the industry locally in the first half of 2015 and handled nearly 50 complaints. Unfortunately, there are many in the industry that don’t have customers’ best interests in mind.
As of the first week in August, your BBB serving Dayton and the Miami Valley has 538 Business Reviews on tree service companies in the region. About 35 percent of them (about 190 companies) are located in Clark County. Your BBB also assigns letter grades to local businesses ranging from A+ to F. In reviewing BBB records, 24 area tree service companies are F-rated. About 88 percent of these F-rated companies (21 companies) are in Clark County.
Your BBB’s letter grade system represents your BBB’s degree of confidence businesses are operating in trustworthy manners and will make good faith efforts to resolve customer concerns. Typically, businesses with F ratings have unanswered and/or unresolved complaints or patterns of complaints that reflect failure by the businesses to deal with the causes of customer problems. Your BBB acknowledges it’s not as much about the number of complaints a company has, but how they handle complaints.
John North, BBB president and CEO, says, “These statistics don’t mean you shouldn’t do business with Clark County tree service businesses. We’re not saying that at all. There are 53 tree service companies in Clark County – both BBB Accredited and not – that have an A rating or higher. In fact, 29 tree service companies in Clark County are BBB Accredited. We just want people to protect themselves and do their homework before hiring companies. There are some great tree service companies that will meet or exceed your expectations. But, unfortunately, the bad guys in this industry make it difficult for the good guys to do business. They shed a negative light on the entire industry.”
Clark County Sheriff, Gene Kelly, says, “We’ve seen many problems with shady tree service companies. Some get the cash up front for the job and never come back to do it. Some cut trees down, but never return to take care of the logs or stumps. Others quote one price and shortly after starting the job they come up with reasons why the price needs to increase. Ask people that have used tree service companies if the companies they used did a good job. That’s one of the best endorsements.”
BBB warns you should be wary if the tree service company has no printed materials, letterhead or bid forms, is unwilling to provide credentials or proper certifications and uses scare tactics or pressures you to make an immediate decision. Some companies frequently change company names and repaint vehicles when authorities catch on to their actions. Some may even claim to be BBB Accredited Businesses when they aren’t. Remember, just because a company claims it’s reputable or a BBB Accredited Business, doesn’t mean it is.
When selecting a tree service, your BBB advises you:
• Get at least three written estimates detailing work specifications.
• Don’t base your decision on the lowest estimate. Consider reputation, years of service and service provided.
• Determine if companies employ certified arborists who’ve passed tests and have adequate training and knowledge specific to tree care.
• Meet company representatives and make sure they’re dressed professionally, prompt and courteous and have knowledge of industry standards.
• Confirm contractors have proper licensing and insurance coverage.
• Find out if tree service companies are members of organizations, such as the National Arborist Association (NAA), American Society of Consulting Arborists (ASCA) or accredited with the Tree Care Industry Association (TCIA). These organizations ensure companies adhere to industry standards and licensing and insurance requirements and evaluate overall business practices.
• Request references and check them out. Visit finished jobs, if possible.
• Find out if companies own stump removal equipment. Many companies rent it once they have multiple stumps to remove.
• Check companies out with your BBB by visiting www.bbb.org or calling (937) 222-5825 or (800) 776-5301. Your BBB can also provide you with a list of BBB Accredited Businesses in the industry.
Chris Moore, City of Springfield service director, says, “If someone knocks on your door and offers to trim your trees, tell them you will be getting at least three written quotes. As you get those quotes, do a gut check. If you’re not comfortable with a company, don’t hire it.”
The City of Springfield requires tree service companies to be licensed to do business in the community. To gain the license, tree service companies have to submit a licensing fee, prove they have training to care for trees by having a representative take and pass a test, prove the company has a bond in the amount of $2000 and provide proof of liability insurance. The City’s goal is to make sure tree companies doing business in the community meet some minimum standards and carry insurance.
Chris Moore adds, “I encourage Springfield residents to call (937) 525-5800 to check to see if companies they are considering hiring are licensed. The license doesn’t necessarily mean they are reputable, but they are trying to do the right thing.”
John North adds, “Not only check to be sure tree service companies are licensed, bonded and insured as appropriate, but I encourage you to do business with BBB Accredited Businesses. Accredited Businesses have to have a B rating or higher and respond to complaints filed against them. They strive to do business the right way and agree to adhere to standards of trust, so they can better differentiate themselves in a competitive marketplace.”