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Buyer Beware When Purchasing Tree Care

Violent fall and winter storms often bring out the best in a community. Neighbors, even strangers, help each other

cope with aggravations and property damage left in the wake of a storm.

Unfortunately, storms also bring out the worst in a community – fast-buck artists looking to profi t from the

misfortunes of others. How can homeowners protect themselves when they need to hire a tree care company to

clean up after a storm?

“With thousands of dollars at stake, not to mention the integrity and appearance of your property and your

personal safety, make sure you investigate before deciding which company you should hire,” warns Peter

Gerstenberger, director of safety and education for the National Arborist Association.

If the “professional arborist” you hired to remove a tree drops it on your house instead of your lawn, it’s too late to

confi rm the company is insured.

“Disreputable companies are renowned for ripping gutters off, breaking fences and bird baths, and even dropping

trees on houses,” says Gerstenberger.” Then they typically fold up and leave, never to be seen again.”

Disreputable companies tend to:

❚ Solicit work door-to-door

❚ Demand payment in advance

❚ Advertise topping

❚ Sell jobs without producing a written estimate or work order.

Start with the arborists listed in the phone book. Don’t place much emphasis on the size of the Yellow Pages ad –

some of the most reputable fi rms rely almost entirely on word-of-mouth advertising. Look instead for what the ad

tells you about the company: number of years in business, professional affi liations, licenses, certifi cation, etc. Avoid

companies that advertise topping, an injurious and unacceptable practice. You should be aware that the credentials

of someone calling himself an arborist could vary widely. Don’t just hire someone with a chain saw who knocks on

your door! Look for the company displaying the credentials of a professional. Contact the licensed tree experts at

Pardoe’s Lawn and Tree Care Service.

When you meet with an arborist:

❚ Ask to see current certifi cates of liability and workers’ compensation insurance, if applicable.

❚ Ask for local references, and check on the quality of their work and level of service.

❚ Verify professional affi liations the company might have, such as membership in the National Arborist


❚ Don’t be lured by a bargain and don’t pay in advance.

❚ Insist on a signed contract as to cost, dates when work is to be performed, and exactly what is to be done.

❚ Insist that climbing spikes are used only if the tree is to be cut down; they damage the tree.

❚ Get a second opinion if it will add to your comfort level. Make sure that a complete diagnosis of the potential for

tree failure is performed before a tree is removed.

519 Washington Avenue

Chestertown, MD 21620

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