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BBB ON HOMES Do plenty of research when tackling fall yard cleanup

November 11, 2018

With the cooler weather arriving throughout the greater Houston area, fall is officially here. Between now and before winter progresses is when many property owners aim to get their yards in order. This process includes pruning trees and removing fallen leaves, debris and branches.

Though there are many reliable companies that provide these services, there are also a few that are looking to be paid in full for services they have no plans to actually finish.

The Better Business Bureau of Houston and South Texas reminds people that there are steps to take to ensure your yard is looking the way you want it to look. When you’re looking for a tree trimmer or a yard service, keep these tips in mind:

Hire a professional. Research companies for free at BBBHouston.org, where you may also use our Accredited Business Directory to find BBB Accredited Businesses. Make sure you know who you are dealing with and how to reach the business if problems arise. Ask for references from previous clients and verify those references.

Be wary of door-to-door solicitations. Each year, countless homeowners have tree trimming companies knock on their door and offer to provide their services at a discount. In too many cases, the work performed is shoddy or only partially completed - and the company fails to return, as promised - forcing property owners to hire a reliable company to do the job right.

Request an on-site inspection. The inspection should include the entire tree, not just parts that appear to be damaged, in poor condition or in danger of falling. The risk assessment can be done at the same time and it helps consumers with multiple trees determine which are categorized as higher-risk, therefore needing immediate attention. Estimates should be given only after an on-site inspection. Companies that give an estimate without a visual inspection cannot be sure of the scope of the work involved and consumers run the risk of paying more than they were quoted. Estimates should include all labor, clean-up and disposal charges.

Get everything in writing. A contract should clearly state the services you will receive, as well as when the job is expected to be completed, payment terms and conditions, contact information for the company, phone number and address, as well as any refund or cancellation policy.

Verify insurance coverage. Tree care can be dangerous if not done by properly trained experts. Confirm that the company has insurance that covers worker’s compensation, property damage and personal liability in case of accidents.

Remember, you’re the customer; it’s your home. Never feel pressured to give anyone your business just because he or she is standing on your doorstep. Remember, for any sale made at your home, per Texas law, you may still cancel the contract within three days.

The Better Business Bureau is an unbiased nonprofit organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. Visit www.bbbhouston.org or call 713-868-9500. Leah Napoliello is senior director of Investigative Services with the BBB of Greater Houston and South Texas. Send questions to Leah Napoliello, Better Business Bureau, 1333 West Loop South, Suite 1200, Houston, TX 77027, or e-mail lnapoliello@bbbhou.org. Include your mailing address and phone number.

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