12 ON YOUR SIDE: Tips for hiring tree contractors

MECHANICSVILLE, VA (WWBT) - Know the company you plan to do business with. Hiring someone because they're working in your neighborhood isn't the same as checking them out.

Three homeowners in Mechanicsville say "A to Z Tree and Stump" was quick taking down the trees and removing the firewood, but they can't get him back to finish.

The wayward tree cutter was paid $5,000 total from three jobs in one neighborhood. Each person knows they paid the entire bill too soon and should have checked his work.

Vance Hayes discovered damage.

"The trucks drove across the lawn and made ruts," said Hayes. "He said, 'We're going to take care of all of that.' The part he did do was take down the trees and take the wood. That's it."

Susan Renzulli says he chopped off part of her decorative tree and then tried to mend it.

"I said, 'I would appreciate it if you would replace the tree that you damaged and never told me'... and he hasn't done anything," said Renzulli.

Tree stumps are their biggest complaint. The neighbors can't get "A to Z Tree and Stump" to grind them.

There's no reason in the world for company owner Steve Walke to come back, says the Better Business Bureau - there's no outstanding balance.

"You be sure to hang on to enough money to keep somebody's attention, so that they are going to want to come back and finish that job up for you," said Tom Gallagher with the BBB.

Gallagher says pay a third when you agree, a third when the job starts and a third when it's finished and you're happy. Never pay in cash. Know who you're dealing with.

"You want to find out how long they been around," said Gallagher. "You want to find out what their insurance is. Somebody could get hurt on your property and it's conceivable you could get exposed to that."

The State Board of Contractors says workers don't need a license for basic services - cutting down trees, filling holes, trimming trees and grinding stumps. You do need a license to grade land.

I called again, and Steve Walke told me he was on his way to the doctor and would take care of the complaints by Friday. If he does show up, we'll let you know.

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