Richmond woman out $900 for tree removal work that hasn't happened

Richmond woman out $900 for tree removal work that hasn't happened

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - A Richmond woman is out $900 after giving a down-payment to two tree service companies to take down a large pine tree in her yard, but says the work never happened.

Nancie Mervis contacted Tree Frog Service at the beginning of the year to take the pine tree down March 7.

When the date for the work passed without anyone showing up, she learned some devastating news about the owner.

"A friend of mine was checking out things on the internet, and his obituary was on there," Mervis said.

The obituary states the owner of Tree Frog Service, died March 4, just days before Mervis's tree was supposed to come down.

Documents show Mervis paid $400 as a deposit in January, and would pay the remaining $1,300 balance once the service was complete.

"I didn't even stop to think why he needed [the $400]," Mervis said. "He was just a wonderful person. He just had a presence about him… I just really trusted him."

Mervis said the owner of Tree Frog Service was going to be helped by Jamie Swenson, who owns Jamie Swenson Tree Service in Richmond.

After she found out about her original contractor's death, she called Swenson.

"He said he could do the tree and that the $400 I lost [from Johnston] he could give me $200 back and [the removal] would cost the same amount," Mervis said. "I figured since he knew [my original contractor] that it was up and up," Mervis said. "So [Swenson] wanted $500."

Despite paying Tree Frog Service a $400 deposit Mervis went ahead and paid Swenson the $500 to start the work. But it has yet to be done.

"I didn't hear back and I tried to contact him several times," Mervis said. "I saw some reviews [online] where somebody was out $1,500. They then called him and he didn't do the work."

There are mixed reviews posted to Google about Jamie Swenson Tree Service.

The Better Business Bureau has one complaint on file, however the company never responded to the complaint.

NBC12 tried to get a hold of Swenson by visiting two addresses listed on his company website and the BBB.

No one answered. A phone call also resulted in a full voicemail.

Mervis said she wants the tree removed because it's affecting her yard, and could potentially fall on her home.

She also wishes Swenson would take responsibility and give her the money back.

"The last call I made to him I said his friend would be very upset," Mervis said.

Mervis is in the process of filing a consumer complaint with the Office of the Attorney General regarding this situation.

According to the website, there have been no formal complaints filed against Swenson's company.

The BBB states tree removal businesses in Virginia are not regulated by the DPOR-Board of Contractors.

Officials with the organization suggest homeowners research a contractor before hiring them.

Here are some suggestions:

  • Ask for multiple quotes. You should always shop around and get at least three quotes from different businesses. Make sure all bids consider the same set of criteria.
  • Verify license and insurance. Always be sure that the company you decide to work with has the necessary licenses and insurance to work in your region.
  • Arrange a payment schedule. Never pay in full up front. Stagger your payments so your final payment is not due until the work is complete and you have fully inspect it.
  • Get a receipt. Request a receipt marked “Paid in Full” when the job is completed and your final payment made.
  • Keep your contract. Hold onto your contract for future reference or if any questions arise after the work is complete.

The BBB said that good tree work by qualified professionals is worth the additional expense. Poor work, no matter the price paid, can cost you a great deal in the long run.

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