Tree surgery is like
skydiving, it’s relatively safe, so long as you have the right training and
equipment. Attempt it without putting in all the hours of study and experience
and, well, let’s just say the results won’t be pretty!
I’ve spent my career
perfecting my craft, focusing on quality of workmanship and training, training,
training, then surrounding myself with a team of tree surgeons with a similar
dedication to the job. This year all that hard work has paid off and Thor’s
Trees has been awarded the prestigious accolade of becoming an ARB approved contractor.
Unfortunately, for every qualified and committed tree surgeon, there are many
cowboys to watch out for. So, this article is about a few of the worst cowboy
fails I’ve recalled hearing about over the years.
Tree surgeon fails #1:
Yes, we’re fully insured!
One of the scariest
stories I’ve ever heard from a customer was of a tree surgeon who was using a
fake insurance certificate to fool customers into thinking that they were a
valid contractor. The certificate was real enough when it was taken out, but
the tree surgeon cancelled the policy the very next day because they didn’t
want to have to pay for the insurance – they just wanted the certificate to
flash in front of customers in the hope that nobody would check up on them.
This client was a little savvier than that and on checking with the insurance
company, promptly asked the uninsured contractor to leave.
TOP TIP: Always
ask a tree surgeon you don’t know to provide you with a copy of their insurance
documents so you can check they are valid. While you’re at it, you should also
ask them for a copy of their qualifications and a printed and exact quote for
the work they intend to do in your garden.
Tree surgeon fails #2:
Look out below!
A firm in Dorset was
called in to clear up the mess left by tree surgeons who had been instructed to
trim a 40ft hedge. What they found was incredible. The previous firm had
decided that rather than take away all the trimmings (including some quite
thick branches) they’d simply leave them balancing in the topmost foliage of
the hedge. The hedge overhung a busy walkway and cycle path, so can you imagine
the damage it could have done if those branches had dislodged in a wind and
fallen the 40ft onto a passer-by? Tree surgeons are required to remove all the
material they cut from your bushes and trees. We’ve heard of cowboy tree
surgeons throwing branches and cuttings over fences into fields or simply into
woodland on the way home.
TOP TIP: Make
sure you ask your tree surgeon how they are going to clear and dispose of all
the materials they cut from your trees and bushes in an ecologically sound way.
Tree surgeon fails #3:
Knock, knock, who’s there?
A company in Fulham were
called by a distraught homeowner who had become the latest victim of the door-knocking
cowboys. She’d answered the door to a team of men who called themselves tree
surgeons asking whether she had any work going. She asked them to remove four
trees from her back garden, but when they clocked off at 5pm they’d simply
chopped the tops off a couple and left around 4ft of stump on others. With
branches strewn all over her garden they asked for most of the money and said that
they’d return the following day to finish off, clear up and collect the rest of
their money… they never came back. They’d hacked at those poor trees, left a
huge mess and done a runner. It took a team of professional tree surgeons to
clear up the mess and properly remove the remains of the trees. Never let a door-knocking
tree surgeon loose on your trees. If you think this is an isolated incident,
think again, local authorities regularly warn their households about cowboy
tree surgeons conning their constituents.
TOP TIP: Never
pay for a job until it’s completed. A deposit may be required, but the bulk of
the fee for the work should only be handed over once the job has been finished
to your satisfaction.
Tree surgeon fails #4: Watchdog
We love the TV show
Watchdog, which reports on rogue traders who want to con us and make sure they
get their comeuppance. Tree surgeons have featured many times over the years on
this show, but one of our favourite fails came in 2010 when they reported on a
chap called David Stanley (not to be confused with other tree surgeons with
similar names) who’d been terrorising trees across London under numerous
different company names. He’d reportedly made up work that wasn’t needed,
severely overcharged, killed trees by over-pruning them, taken money for tree
reports that never materialised and, most importantly, persuaded people that
their trees could be cut down despite there being tree preservation orders on
them – something that comes with a hefty fine attached to it.
Top Tip: The best
way to find a tree surgeon you can trust is through recommendation from people
who have actually used them. Next best is to find an ARB Approved Contractor
(they’re all listed on the ARB website so don’t just take someone’s word for
it, look them up), because those who achieve this status have gone through the industry’s
toughest assessments to find them worthy.
Don’t use door-knocking tree surgeons
A reputable firm will
not find work this way – they won’t need to.
Do ask to see paperwork
Insurance and qualification documentation and a written quote to avoid any confusion later on.
Don’t pay until the job is done
Some tree surgeons will ask for a deposit, but always hold onto the bulk of the money until the job is complete.
Check if they are on the ARB website
The Arboricultural Association is the UK’s leading authority on quality tree surgeons.
To book a free survey and consultation with one of our
ARB Approved arborists for advice on your trees or to book our tree surgeons to
prune/maintain or fell your tree(s) and remove the stumps, call us on 0208 292
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