The Better Business Bureau in Calgary issued a warning after receiving reports of lawn care contractors allegedly luring customers with cheap deals.
As of Tuesday, the BBB Scam Tracker had received a total of 11 complaints since the end of April, along with 38 reviews.
Calgary homeowner Tyson Gallant was one of those complainants. He hired TreeTop Lawncare after getting a flyer delivered to his home offering aeration, power raking and hand raking — all for $99.
“I said, ‘Oh that sounds like a good deal,'” he told Global News.
Gallant went to the company’s website and said everything looked legitimate, so he booked a service call. He said the crew showed up late, while he was at work and only his wife was home.
“They banged on the door, woke up my little baby,” he added.
“We just need payment upfront,” he said they told his wife. “So wife pays them upfront. They just do a quick hack job power raking and then they left. They didn’t aerate or hand rake – left our yard a complete mess.”
Gallant said he felt like they took advantage of the fact that he wasn’t home and his wife was dealing with a crying baby. He added when he tried to contact the company several times to deal with his concerns, he did not get a response.
“They pretty much blocked me and that’s when I contacted the BBB.”
Global News reached out to TreeTop Lawncare for a response to Gallant’s concerns as well as other complaints on the BBB website.
An email response from the company’s owner, Bob Folgnoski, said there will always be unsatisfied customers “no matter what.” He also said the company does a lot of volume — 7,000 to 10,000 homes per season — and only averages about 10-15 complaints.
Folgnoski added in order to get that volume done, he hired sub-contractors with at least five years experience in landscaping.
“This year I experienced that two of my sub-contracting crews were there to just make money (they have a share per house) and leave not paying attention to quality of work,” he wrote.
“I found out about that after they had done 100-200 houses. I took measures right away and fired the crews.”
The BBB told Global News regardless of whether the work was done by sub-contractors or not, the company should respond to its customers regarding any and all complaints.
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How to avoid shoddy work
The BBB added peak times — like the spring and summer — are prime times for consumers to get caught up in shoddy work. It listed several tips for homeowners to ensure they get the job done right.
- Be wary of unsolicited offers. The BBB pointed out most scams involving contractors begin when someone goes out of their way to offer consumers an estimate out of the blue.
- Cheap, deeply discounted prices. Offers, that are deeply discounted, could be a red flag.
- A sense of urgency. Beware of limited time offers that expire and require action immediately.
“They’re in the neighbourhood, it’s easy,” BBB Calgary’s President and CEO, Mary O’Sullivan-Andersen pointed out.
“Consumers are in a hurry to be able to get work done, they want to get it done and the fact is contractors, home improvement – they’re all really busy right now and it’s easy to give that sense of – it has to be now.”
The BBB advised consumers look at reviews and don’t act impulsively.
“There’s no greater time to just slow down and do your research,” O’Sullivan-Andersen said.
It’s also suggested consumers get everything in writing before payment is even discussed, as well as paying with a credit card so there is some recourse if the job is not done right.
The BBB told Global News TreeTop Lawncare has not yet responded to complaints on its site.
Right now the company has a rating of “F” and is not accredited by the BBB.