12 ON YOUR SIDE: Neighbors call about unfinished tree stump removal work

MECHANICSVILLE, VA (WWBT) - The lowest price isn't always right when hiring a contractor. Tonight, 12 On Your Side investigates complaints from three neighbors who say the contractor did most of the work but won't come back to finish.

A low-ball offer could actually be warning sign, you're about to get set up.

Three Mechanicsville neighbors say it happened to them. I looked into their complaints against "A to Z Tree and Stump" - a company we investigated before.

Vance Hayes saw workers taking down trees in a neighbor's yard and after a conversation got a bid way lower than other companies.

"I had faith in him," said Hayes. "I was encouraged by what he had done. And now, oh my God."

He signed a contract with "A to Z Tree and Stump" to remove 11 trees, the stumps and the wood. The deal was $1,000 down, which he paid, and $1,500 upon completion, which he paid too soon.

"(You want him to come back and grind the stumps?) Yeah, grind the stumps. He did two," said Hayes.

Hayes says he's flabbergasted, disgusted and worried that nine jagged-edge stumps could injure his grand kids.

"If they stumble and their face hit that stump. That's like concrete," said Hayes.

We've run across the company before. Neighbors say he did the same thing here. He left his pickup truck, trailer and stump-grinding machine parked on the side of the road for weeks.

Susan Renzulli says they fell for excuses and got strung along several months. She had a huge oak tree cut down for just $300 but can't replant because of what was left.

"He has to come back and dig the roots out, like he had promised us, in order for us to do anything," said Renzulli.

A third neighbor paid $2,200 for eight trees and stump removal. That job is incomplete too.

Steve Walke acknowledged the unfinished work over the phone.

Here's what he said:

•  "Workers were supposed to grind the stumps. I didn't know there was a problem until you called."

•  "I fell out of a tree."

•  "A chainsaw took off three fingers."

•  "I've got thousands of happy customers."

•  "The problems will be taken care of by Monday."

"If he would do that, I'm fine," said Hayes. "We both go our own separate ways. All is well."

A to Z Tree and Stump did not show up by Monday.

Hiring a company because they're working in your neighborhood isn't the same as checking them out. I'll have tips for hiring a contractor Thursday and I'll check back to see if Steve Walke corrected these latest complaints.

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