Welcome to the Department of Justice, Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller

For immediate release -- June 30, 1998.
Contact Bob Brammer - 515-281-6699

Tree-Trim Tips: Consumer Tips for Iowans with
Storm-Damaged Trees

Following is a bulletin from Attorney General Tom Miller with tips for Iowans coping with storm-related tree damage who are hiring contractors for clean-up and removal:

The main problems we have seen in the past:

  • Taking payment and doing little or no work -- especially by persons from out of town.
  • Starting job but quitting in midstream because it's too difficult (and perhaps taking money.)
  • Promising to take branches away "for the firewood" but only taking big pieces and leaving a mess.
  • Putting pressure especially on older Iowans, especially by out-of-state persons.

The main consumer tips to follow:

  • NEVER PAY IN ADVANCE. This is a recipe for being cheated by a total scam artist, or even by a local person who doesn't finish the job.
  • If at all possible, deal with an established and reputable local business. Try to deal with local outfit even if it's not an established contractor.
  • Be sure to have a clear understanding of the price, the job to be done, and when.
    • Best to have written contract.
    • Good to have written estimate.
    • Crucial to have full agreement on the job to be done (including clean-up.)
  • Get professional if job is risky to workers or your property. May be very important that they are insured.
  • COMPLAIN TO ATTORNEY GENERAL OR LOCAL LAW ENFORCEMENT if you have been cheated. (Consumer Protection Division: 515-281-5926.)
  • Note that "price-gouging" is by rule an "unfair practice" and consumer fraud violation during disasters. Contact the Attorney General's Office.
  • Volunteer to help older neighbors as they deal with contractors (and be sure they aren't intimidated into paying for work that was not done.)