JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Rick Warming's tree service is cleaning up a mess at Bob Maloney's Southside home.
Warming has a warning about 'Storm Chasers' -- that's what they're called by the Better Business Bureau. They are the guys who show up at your front door right after a storm.
"These guys are coming out in cars and trucks with no signs on them will do a little bit of the job and grab a check and leave," said Warming.
The storm chasers wanted to remove the tree from Maloney's home, even though Warming had already done most of the work.
His first rule in hiring someone that is not out for a quick buck is very simple: Find a business that is bonded, licensed and insured.
"You want a company that is reputable that does what it says it is going to do," he said. Other tips include:
- Don't be rushed into signing a contract with any company.
- Get at least three written estimates. Don't take the first best offer.
- Make the estimates include removing all limbs and debris. Do not allow the contractor to leave them on the curb
The city is not obligated to remove limbs and debris that were placed on the curb by a paid private contractor.
If the tree falls on your property you should also contact your homeowners insurance; the tree by itself is not covered, but your property is and insurance will pay for its removal.
And never pay in advance, said Warming.
"Absolutely not. Since I started my company we do not get paid until the job is completed and the customer is happy,' he said.
The Federal Trade Commission said if you have to pay something, pay one third of the total price -- that is the norm -- and pay with check or credit card. Never pay with cash.