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I-Team: How you can tell if a tree care company is legitimate

Published: Tuesday, May 07, 2019 @ 6:30 PM
Updated: Wednesday, May 08, 2019 @ 12:39 PM

The Better Business Bureau of Dayton and Miami Valley has 581 tree service companies in its database, but only 73 are accredited. James Brown and the I-Team investigate.

UPDATE @12:40 p.m. 5/8/19

Editor’s Note:

During the course of reporting, the Ohio Secretary of State’s Office said Care-A-Lot Tree Service was not licensed, and should not be doing business in Ohio.

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Today, we heard back from the the company’s owner, Clayton Anderson. His lawyer provided us with his Secretary of State certificate to do business in Ohio.

It should be noted the certificate was issued on the same day James Brown interviewed Anderson. 

Since our story aired, the I-TEAM has received other complaints about Care-A-Lot’s work.

Anderson’s lawyer did not address overall complaints against the company, including those with the State Attorney General’s Office

In a statement, he said the company’s “provided excellent tree service to the Miami Valley for over 13 years and looks forward to working with our customers in the future.”

FIRST REPORT

Spring means birds, backyard water features and budding trees.

And lots of those trees mean big business for tree service companies.

The Better Business Bureau of Dayton and Miami Valley has 581 tree service companies in its database.

But only 73 of them are BBB accredited.

>> BBB’s top 5 riskiest scams in 2018

Pete Miller lives in Kettering and last summer, he was approached by Quality Care Tree Service out of Springfield.

“They came by and asking if I needed work,” he said.

Miller agreed to pay $300-400 for work on two trees. 

When he couldn’t tell if any work was done on the front tree, he called the company twice.

“I just wanted them to come out and tell me what you did,” Miller said. “Show me what you did. I didn’t want any money back.”

And then there is Lashawna Thompson’s story in Trotwood.

She told News Center 7’s I-Team that a different Springfield company, Care-A-Lot Tree Service, never finished work at her house.

The crew left with her money — and debris on the ground — and never returned to finish the job.

Likewise, David Hatfield said work by Care-A-Lot was never finished at his Piqua home.

He told the I-Team that he felt pressured to pay upfront.

Ohio law does not require contractors to be licensed, but many cities do, said Dominic Binkley with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office.

“There may be violations of the Consumer Sales Practices Act if a supplier makes misrepresentations regarding licensing or fails to obtain a necessary license,” he said. “Also, failing to register a business or registering a fictitious business name with the Secretary of State can be a violation of the Consumer Sales Practices Act.

However, the City of Springfield requires a tree work license.

It includes passing an aptitude test, having insurance, workers compensation coverage and a $50 license fee, said Springfield Service Director Chris Moore.

If someone is caught without a license, they can be fined up $5,000 and can spend up to 60 days in jail.

Moore said it is rarely prosecuted.

The city does keep a list of licensed tree workers and encouraged people to call the service department before hiring anyone.

The Ohio Attorney General and BBB said that they’ve received multiple complaints about the two businesses.

In these three cases, the companies failed to even respond to the complaints.

So News Center 7’s James Brown decided to get answers.

He tracked down the owners of Care-A-Lot Tree Services and Quality Care Tree Service.

“We have a lot of complaints. We try to address some of them,” said Clayton Anderson, owner of Care-A-Lot. “I can’t get to all of them.”

When asked about Thompson’s claim, he questioned why someone would pay if they work wasn’t done.

Justin Bowshier, owner of Quality Care Tree Service, spoke to Brown about the work his team did in Kettering last August.

“He should have walked through the yard and walked you around to your approval,” he said.

Bowshier and Miller agreed to set up a time to have a crew come back and trim the tree to Miller’s satisfaction.

Care-A-Lot also went back to Piqua for Hatfield.

He told News Center 7 that the work was finally finished to his satisfaction.

James Brown confronts two tree trimming businesses as part of his Consumer Alert piece, investigating how to protect yourself against scams.