Local tree trimmer begins work, but doesn't finish at two homes

Local tree trimmer begins work, but doesn't finish at two widows' homes

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At one home in Clinton, the contractor started working on a big spruce that had a split limb cut in half by an electrical storm. That branch knocked down several limbs from another tree in her yard. At one home in Clinton, the contractor started working on a big spruce that had a split limb cut in half by an electrical storm. That branch knocked down several limbs from another tree in her yard.
"[The contractor] wasn't here but a short period of time, and he took off quick as he got the check," Elzia said. "And [he] never came back." "[The contractor] wasn't here but a short period of time, and he took off quick as he got the check," Elzia said. "And [he] never came back."
Angela Long says the trimmer came to her house on September 10. Long, who is a widow, paid Jason Miller $350 up front to cut those branches.  She says the job was never finished. Angela Long says the trimmer came to her house on September 10. Long, who is a widow, paid Jason Miller $350 up front to cut those branches. She says the job was never finished.
Both women hired East Tennessee Tree Professionals represented by Jason Miller. Both women hired East Tennessee Tree Professionals represented by Jason Miller.

By DON DARE
6 On Your Side Consumer Investigator

CLINTON (WATE) - Recent thunderstorms and heavy rains in East Tennessee have toppled lots of trees, leaving many homeowners in need of tree trimming and removal services.

Unfortunately for the legitimate companies, the industry is full of fly-by-night contractors.

The tree service industry is not like the building industry. The company does not need to be paid in advance for work.

One popular trick among some tree services is to begin a project, collect the money, then for any number of reasons never return.

In Clinton, Elzia showed 6 On Your Side pieces of downed trees left behind in her yard by a tree trimmer who had driven by her house two weeks ago.

"This tree here, this part of it, did all the damage to these other trees," she said.

The contractor started working on a big spruce that had a split limb cut in half by an electrical storm. That branch knocked down several limbs from another tree in her yard. 

The work began after she had made partial payment up front.  

"[The contractor] wasn't here but a short period of time, and he took off quick as he got the check," Elzia said. "And [he] never came back."

Elzia, a widow, lives alone and asked that her last name be withheld. The 79-year old hired a company called East Tennessee Tree Professionals from Corryton, and paid the tree trimmer nearly $1,500 to start the work.

Elzia said she spoke with a man named Jason Miller who first gave her a quote of $1,450, but then raised it to $3,500.

"He said he had to have $1,450 before he could bring his heavy equipment out," Elzia said. "He promised me when I wrote him the check that he would have everything cleared out of here before dark that night."

Despite several calls to Miller that Elzia says were not returned, it's clear from the debris he never came back.

"I hired East Tennessee Tree Professionals, and his name was Jason Miller," said Angela Long.

Long has a large utility pole in the front of her yard in Fountain City. The Knoxville Utilities Board had marked one of the trees, wanting to prune branches that were intertwined with the power line.

Long says Miller came to her house on September 10. Long, who is a widow, paid Jason Miller $350 up front to cut those branches. 

Miller was supposed to trim all the branches from the tree away from the power line, but only around six branches were pruned.

"I called him, he didn't return my calls. Then I called him again. He said, 'I'll be out there on the 24th. We'll take care of this.'"

It was never taken care of. Miller never returned.

6 On Your Side contacted Jason miller, who said he's been very busy and didn't have a chance to finish the job in Fountain City.

"I am going to be back sometime this week, maybe Wednesday," said Miller.

As for as the job in Clinton, Miller said he can't work for free. He said Elzia didn't have the $3,500 up front, and he's not going to work there until he's paid.

"I have always been a trusting person. I wouldn't do anybody wrong. I've always felt nobody else would do me wrong, but I have sure learned different," admitted Elzia.

There are many reputable tree trimmers in East Tennessee, but as Elzia and Angela found out the hard way, the door-to-door contractor they hired was unreliable.

The rule to follow here is never pay for a tree trimming service until you are 100 percent satisfied with the work.

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