When disaster strikes, how do I avoid price gouging?

The last thing any of us want is to be taken advantage of. The feeling is compounded when it occurs in the wake of a disaster. Unfortunately, this can and does happen. Whether it be a tree unexpectedly falling on your home or the result of mother nature, we can be further hurt when left at our most vulnerable. Take for example, a news article recently run in Birmingham, AL: 

“Some people who survived the April 27 tornado outbreak are now concerned they have fallen victim to price-gouging, especially exorbitant tree removal rates. David Hutchens of Cullman said he received an $18,000 bill from Keller’s Tree Service to have two of his neighbor’s trees — a large oak tree and a medium-sized cherry tree — removed from his house. Hutchens said he approached the tree removal service as it was working on a neighbor’s house. He said he was first quoted a price that ranged from $5,500 to $6,000, then his wife was later given a quote of $20,000.

When it comes to tree removal service, experts say there is no clear pricing formula.

Javetta Lodge, who helps run her husband’s 21-year-old company, Complete Tree and Stump Removal near McCalla, said the price varies. Many factors contribute to the price, including the time devoted, the equipment used, the tree’s size and the danger to remove it. Lodge said she believes some tree cutters have inflated their prices because they can get away with it in the wake of the supply and demand caused by the storms.

So how can you avoid the same fate? Here’s a few tips:

1) Hire a company that is certified through the ISA (International Society of Arboriculture). ISA Certified Arborists sign a code of ethics, not the least of which includes treating customers fairly. To see a copy of this code visit: http://www.isa-arbor.com/Certification/resources/cert_Ethics_RepresentationsAgreements.pdf 

2) Look for a company that is licensed and insured. Price gouging is a good way to lose a business license. This also keeps you safe from liability if a worker were to be hurt on your property.

3) Get a second opinion. And a third. It’s always a good bet to shop around; just remember while you’re doing so to compare legitimate companies. Look to make sure they are offering the same services. Is stump grinding included? Will the debris be left on site or hauled away? Do your research and ask questions!

Here at O.A.K. Services, our team of certified arborists want to offer you the highest quality work at a reasonable rate. With years of experience in hazardous tree removal and a positive reputation preceding us, we’d like to be your next call when disaster strikes. 

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Awed

Thanks for all your hard work and for allowing my husband and I to be AWED by your expertise! We highly recommend O.A.K. for any tree removal.— Ethel W.