Check His Credentials
The crime scene was quite obvious. An over-sized obnoxious oak tree endangered the house. It was the house or the tree. I got the call and the voice on the other end was one of desperation. It was a tree trimmer that had dropped a branch on his customer’s electrical line and pulled it off of the house. I calmed him down and assured him that I was in route and we would get it taken care of ASAP. 10 minutes later, I arrive. Confirming the address on the mailbox, I realized that there was a competitor parked in the driveway.
I stepped around to the back of the house to survey the damage. A branch did hit the electrical service but also dented the gutter and put a large dent in the roof! The competitor and I talk and discover that I was called by the tree trimmer and he was called by the homeowner. Now the situation gets a bit awkward. The tree trimmer wasn’t on site so we step inside to visit with the homeowner. After the discussion and trying to figure out the situation, the background story was clear. The tree trimmer dropped the limb on the service the day before. He claimed to the homeowner that he called about 20 people and only one person had called him back stating that they would be out to fix it that day. The homeowner was mad because no one had shown up by his account until I arrived which had been over 24 hours from the incident. She had been without power for over 24 hours! The utility company had already been out to cut the wires loose and rolled them up at the pole. The competitor and I were just about to explain the process to get power back on when the tree trimmer arrived.
I stepped outside with the tree trimmer to visit with him since he was my point of contact. That also meant that because he was at fault, he should have to foot the bill for the repairs. He asked how much to make the repairs. I tried to break it to him gently that it wasn’t as simple as putting it back up like it was. Because the utility company has been involved, they WILL require a permit which means that any repairs MUST be brought up to Code (we that, permit or not). A deck next to the service means that the wires had to go higher than they were. Because there was a window capable of being opened 18″ from where the utility drop was secured to the house meant that it had to go even higher than that. The only option was through the roof. The pipe had to be metal and the wires had to be longer to get it through the roof. That’s the only way it would have passed inspection.
I gave him a price and his head sunk. After a minute or two, he blurted out a few obscenities, gave me a few dirty looks, and yelled that it was more than he had in the entire job. He marched around on the deck for a moment or two then regained his composure. He said he was going to visit with the homeowner. Meanwhile, I visited with the competitor and familiarized him with the city Codes and he and I were at the same price. It all came down to who was going to get the bill; the tree trimmer or the homeowner? Sadly, the competitor did the work and the homeowner had to pay for it. It wasn’t anything that we had done. I visited with the homeowner to find out why she chose the competitor (He really didn’t want to do it). She informed me that she appreciated our honesty in the matter and our willingness to make it right but 1) the competitor was charging her to come by even if it was only to look at it and 2) she had lost all confidence in the tree trimmer, she felt that he had lied to her, she didn’t think that he had the money to pay to fix it, and she didn’t think that he had insurance.
Bottom line is in this day and age with our economy the way that it is, people are willing to work cheap just to work. The way that they do it is to hire unqualified people, use inferior parts, and won’t carry insurance to protect you when something goes wrong. In the end, they have put your family and your home in danger. We’ll never do that to you. Always check for references and don’t be afraid to ask for a copy of their insurance. More importantly, call to make sure that the policy is still in effect. Don’t get left holding the bill from others mistakes.