Tuesday, October 14, 2008
Carmel on the Case: Tree Trouble
Homeowners often find local businesses leaving cards on their doors or stopping by to offer their services. But one family ended up with tree trouble after accepting just such an offer and now they've filed a complaint to the county about it. Seven's investigative reporter Carmel Cafiero is on the Case.
WSVN -- These old trees are beautiful, but they can be too much of a good thing during hurricane season.
Scott Smith: "I found a calling card in the front door."
Scott Smith says based on that card he hired Chuck's Tree Service back in June.
Carmel Cafiero: "So, for $2,600 what were they supposed to do?"
Scott Smith: "Trim every tree in the yard."
Carmel Cafiero: "That's a lot of trees."
Scott paid in advance with two checks made out to cash. But he says the company only trimmed the lower branches, and only small branches were cut off. When he called to complain, he says all he got was excuses.
Scott Smith: "Didn't come, didn't come, didn't come, kept calling, kept calling."
Scott says he dealt with a man named Sean, who is listed on the business card as the supervisor.
Scott Smith: "He kept promising he'd come and make it right, but he didn't."
He says Sean eventually stopped returning his calls, so then he looked for the owner of Chuck's Tree Service, and he couldn't even find the company. We did. However, it wasn't easy. At one point, we found crews from Chuck's, and here's Sean loading up in front of a rented home in Hollywood. The sign on the truck indicates the company is licensed and insured.
But Broward County says Chuck's Tree Service is not licensed in Broward County, and that could land them in a lot of trouble.
Larry Kaplan: "The ordinance calls for penalties up to $15,000. The purpose is to eliminate unlicensed, in this case, tree trimmers."
We were finally able to track down someone from Chuck's Tree Service through this ad on Craig's List.
Carmel Cafiero: "Are you David Gray?"
David Gray's cell phone number was listed in the ad as a contact number for the company.
David Gray: "I say that we do have license and insurance."
Carmel Cafiero: "What's your license number?"
David Gray: "I don't know it offhand."
By law, the license number should be on ads and vehicles associated with the company. Gray told us the tree service is based in Hollywood.
Carmel Cafiero: "What's the address?"
David Gray: "Don't got an address."
Carmel Cafiero: "So it just operates out of the air?"
David Gray: "That's about right."
Carmel Cafiero: "You own Chuck's Tree Service. Is that correct?"
Rosie Wolfe: "Correct."
Gray called in Rosie Wolfe who says she used to own the company, but she says it's been out of business for five years. However, she admits she rents out her tree trimming equipment.
Carmel Cafiero: "And this company doesn't have a license. Chuck's Tree Service does not have a license. You realize that, don't you?"
Rosie Wolfe: "Ah, no I didn't realize. I thought I renewed. I thought, well, five years ago I didn't want to renew it."
Gray did bring worker Sean back to Scott's house to address his complaints. Scott wanted a full refund because he says the job wasn't done.
Scott Smith: "I could have done it with a pair of clippers."
Patrick Shawn Tinnelle: "So why didn't you?"
Scott Smith: "Because I trusted you, because I trusted you. You kept saying, 'Trust me, trust me.' You know what? I believe in people.
Scott eventually accepted about a 50 percent refund offered by David.
Carmel Cafiero: "That was a few days ago, and although Scott was supposed to have that refund by now, he says he hasn't received a penny. As for Chuck's Tree Service, a complaint has been filed with Broward County, and now the County will determine if any ordinances have been violated.
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