Trees are budding, flowers are in bloom, everything’s coming up roses…but your lawn, there’s a problem. The answer may be a lawn care service, but who? In 2016, the BBB received 143 complaints related to lawn care/landscaping and maintenance services. That number signals that consumers need to be cautious when choosing a provider for those services.
The basis for many of the complaints, shoddy workmanship, damage to lawns, failure to honor warranties, and billing and collection issues. Another common complaint; aggressive sales practices where the customer thought they were requesting informational brochures only to find a bill for “splash and dash” services that had been performed.
“While the vast majority of consumers have no problem with their lawn care professionals; there are still many who get stuck every year,” says Steve J. Bernas, president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois. For example, Bernas notes, “Everyone looks for the best price for any service, but the lawn care industry is renowned for low price $29.99 offers. Thinking that will be their monthly fee; the homeowner signs-up, only to find that was the discounted cost for just the first month of service, and the following invoices were appreciably higher.”
Many lawn care services will leave business cards and door hangers for potential customers but, the BBB advises you really need to know who you are dealing with. Along with checking with friends and neighbors you can visit the BBB website to find qualified service providers.
Additionally, ask the right questions:
- How long have you been in business, and can you prove it?
If a business has been around for 10 years, chances are it’s reliable. But a lawn care provider that’s been around for just a month should raise suspicions, as the provider might be working a fly-by-night scam.
- Are you a member of a professional lawn care group?
The National Association of Landscape Professionals recommends considering a lawn care company that’s licensed, accredited or certified by a national, state or local association. Also, find out whether the company is accredited by the Better Business Bureau.
- Are you insured?
At a minimum, a lawn care provider you do business with should carry general liability insurance in case something goes wrong on your property.
- How does your lawn care contract work?
Before a lawn care business cuts one blade of grass, provides any treatment and before you pay a single penny, you should have a written, signed contract or plan. Details should include a description of the work to be done, the timetable, the cost and the payment terms.
There is a wealth of additional information on shopping for a lawn services provider in the March edition of our online “LiveBetter Newsletter”.