Friday, April 26, 2013

The Epic Tree Debacle

I'm not going to use any real names of companies or people in this story, but I feel its a story I have to tell. It's a long one, so buckle up. (or just close your browser)

About 1 month ago, I contacted a few tree places wanting to get estimates on our tree. We had just a little bit of extra money thanks to taxes and figured we could spend $1000 to get this taken care of.

It was obvious from the first two guys that came out that there was no way we were getting this tree taken care of for $1000.

We had a local company come out and take a look. After he looked at the tree for a good 15-20 minutes, he said, "What about $1300, stump and all?" I did quick calculations in my mind and figured, yes, this is probably the cheapest we will get it.

Now mind you, I did do research on this company. It was recommended by a friend, they have a A rating with the BBB, and the few online reviews said how great they were.

So, turned out, this company didn't have a climber that could handle our tree. So they decided to subcontract the tree portion. They would take care of the disposal and stump. We had no less than 6 companies come to our house as potential subcontractors. Everyone of them said there's no money to be made for that little cash. It was almost as if everyone in the area got together and said, "Let's just all show up with different trucks and say more money is needed."

Eventually, I get a call from the company we hired. (We're going to call them Company A) The guy gave me this long rambling explanation about how they couldn't do it for $1300, but if we could get it up to $1500, they would be more comfortable. He gave me a sob story about how the owner's wife has cancer and was just laying it on thick. I reluctantly agreed, thinking about the neighbors who have been pissed that pieces of our tree have been landing in their yard and the way the tree swayed too close to our house during storms.

So Company A had a sister company come out. (Company B) Company B showed up Monday, were cursing up a storm about getting lost for 45 minutes, pissed that the tree was so large, pissed in general. Company B unloaded their equipment and I figured I would just lay low and not make eye contact with them. Eventually I hear more cursing and then silence. I get a call from Company A saying, "I'm going to send someone else over. Company B wanted $400 more to do the job and I told them to walk."

So finally, Wednesday, without warning, I hear chainsaws start in the backyard. (Company C) I didn't really notice it at first, but after about 90 minutes I finally went and looked, and there was a guy in the tree, taking large logs down.

The first picture to the left shows what I saw when I peeked out my window. I went to the bathroom and as I was in there, I felt what I could only imagine a crashing airplane feels like. Then, two minutes later, I snapped the second picture. I can't believe the tree didn't hit the garage.

So Company C works from about 10 am until 4 pm and still have what's below to chop up. I get a knock at the door, and its the cutter. He says he'll have to come back to finish in the morning. Then he lays on this story about how he's going to break even and he broke three chains cutting this, and if somehow we could tip him and his men, it would be greatly appreciated.

I was completely tapped out at this point. I have no money to spare. And I felt like crap. Like there's no reason I should feel crappy. We're spending $500 more than we wanted already. There is no tip money, but somehow I felt like a slime ball.

So it wasn't over yet. Company A asked if we could pay each company (Company A, C, and Stump guy separately.) OK, I can do that. But then Company A asked if we could pay the $200 going to them in cash. I didn't think anything of this and said sure. Immediately Sal and my mom said, "They are scamming you."

So I text back, apologizing, and ask if we could do it by check like originally planned. It was then that I got this string of text messages basically berating me. "I've done so much for you. I'm not making any money. I didn't think $200 was that big of a deal. This is crazy, I can't believe you're doing this." Had they not already done like 3/4 the work, I would've had them walk.

So, you would hope it was over then. It's not. Company A came for their $200 Thursday.

I paid the guy and he walked out of the house. I go back to working in the office and all of a sudden, I hear screaming and cursing outside. Apparently the owner of Company A stopped by to see what was happening. He's cursing the guy I've been talking to out saying "How can you give such a small bid on such a big tree. You're losing me money." The guy I had been talking to screams back, "I've been doing all of your work for the past month, you want to get out of your truck and say something. I'll beat your ass right on the street here." And then the truck drives off at full speed.

Then Company C guy comes out and starts berating Company A guy telling him to never call again if for such a small bid on a big tree.

Is it done yet? Not at all.

So Company C does some good work. In total, they spend about 12 hours getting the tree down to the stump. Apparently the tree had rocks grown into it that was breaking all the chainsaw blades. The guy said they almost left me 3 feet of trunk because he is $200 in the hole for this job.

He also says the stump I have is really close to a $700 stump, (see below) which worries that I'm about to deal with another pissed off tree guy because I am told he's only getting $300 for the stump.

He then goes on this racist rant about how we're Americans but we never get a break and taxes suck and the Bosnians that moved to St. Louis all got $150,000 checks to live here and he gets charged $9000 from the City of St. Louis in taxes and its just not fair. After about 15 minutes leaves.

That's still not the end of it. About 2 hours later I get a knock at my door. It's a neighbor I've seen around but never introduced myself to. He's a really nice guy, but it turns out, the tree guys let logs just fall into my neighbor's yard and tore huge holes into the yard. So now, they can't even mow the lawn. I then looked at my yard and saw giant holes in it as well. I guess that's expected as a giant tree fell into it. I'm just done talking to Company A at this point, so I will be purchasing dirt this weekend and filling his and my yard divots.

And this is even before the stump guy has come. At this point, I sort of hope the stump guy never shows and I can just pay someone a little more money next year to grind that stump up and just be done with this.

This has seriously been the most stressful 5 months ever. Basically since Sallie's surgery mid-December, its been nothing but stress. It's a sad day when I'm looking forward to getting my surgery so I can have 2 weeks to rest.