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Homeowner double-billed after wrong trees are cut down

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WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) — Susan Stone planted a cedar tree a few years ago and it grew to be taller than she is.

“I’ve been watching it grow for three to four years, and now it’s gone,” Stone told Call 12 for Action. “It just made me sad.”

The tree was mistakenly removed by a local tree service Stone hired to trim a different tree and remove four shrubs.

The company got rid of the shrubs months ago but left three of the stumps.

“I asked her when they would be back out,” Stone recalled. “[An employee of the tree service] said they completed the job and I said no, that they hadn’t.”

Stone said she marked the stumps with red ribbons so when the crew returned, they would know exactly what to remove. But instead of grinding the stumps, the tree service cut down Stone’s cedar tree, a small fir tree and another shrub.

“I was pretty much hysterical,” Stone said.

Then Stone was double-billed for the work. The invoice totaled $900.  

“I don’t believe it’s my responsibility to pay for work that they messed up,” she said.

When Call 12 for Action reached the owner of the tree service, he blamed Stone for the “misunderstanding,” but conceded the double billing was a mistake and that Stone only owed $450.

Following Call 12 for Action’s inquiry, the owner decided to wipe out the bill to resolve the issue.

The damage and lost trees are worth $500, according to an independent landscaper who evaluated Stone’s property, so in addition to crediting the $450 bill, the owner of the tree service also agreed to send Stone a $50 check to cover the entire cost to replace her plants.

According to the Better Business Bureau, before consumers hire a tree service, they should do a cost comparison by getting at least three quotes in writing. Consumers should also verify that the company is insured, and sign a written contract before any work begins.

Susan Campbell (scampbell@wpri.com) is the Call 12 for Action and Target 12 consumer investigator for WPRI 12 and Fox Providence. Follow her on Twitter and on Facebook.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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