Beware Tree Pruners And Others Who 'Cold Call'
Tree Pruners And Others Who 'Cold Call' At Your Back Door
New Zealand Police Canterbury News Release
1:09pm 7 August 2008
Christchurch Police Community Police officer Deborah Smalley appeared on Fair Go this week on the perennial story of the tree pruners and others who 'cold call' at your back door offering gardening and hedge trimming.
"Many of these groups - and they often work in groups of five or more, come 'cold calling' at homes, knocking on doors and windows and walking around properties without consent," she says. "They are well known for overcharging, particularly the elderly, for basic jobs."
Customers are often persuaded to pay outrageous prices for what are really just small jobs however they are not done professionally and often ruin trees.
"They often take advantage of the elderly and vulnerable. I've been told of tree workers pretending to not understand language, and then try to push up prices they had early quoted," says Deborah Smalley.
The two worst recent incidents in Christchurch she knows of, both involved people in their 80's.
"One was seriously overcharged for poor and incomplete work. The trimmers then returned several times to be paid over and over for the same work. The second person was being charged $350 to have work done, however payment was collected twice weekly for the same job."
In both of these instances bank staff have become concerned and intervened by refusing to cash large cheques to protect their customers.
In the earlier years of operation the workers showed little knowledge or skill in their work. They tended to mostly use rudimentary tools such as machetes for trimming and very few chain saws. The quality of work was reported to be extremely poor and frequently brutal to vegetation. It is very unlikely that any of the operators had any formal training as an arborist despite claims to the contrary.
In more recent times the trimmers have become more confident and bold in their methods of operation. Outwardly they appear professional, wearing high visibility fluro vests and work with proper equipment and machinery. The skill involved or quality of work carried out is believed to have not greatly improved.
"One of the features about groups and individuals involved in these activities is suspicious or overbearing behaviour and failure to leave any contact details at properties visited," Senior Constable Smalley says. "They often claim to be raising money for community groups such as a choir or a church group."
Senior Constable Smalley says that there are problems in tracking these groups down later because groups have multiple business cards, different names, and are very hard to find because they have no business or street address.
Senior Constable Smalley has advice for dealing with the 'cold caller'.
„X Anyone who comes to your door offering goods or services uninvited should be treated with suspicion.
„X If a deal seems too good to be true it probably is.
„X If there is pressure to accept any offer on the day, steer clear of it.
„X Don't be afraid to ask for a quote.
„X Ask your friends, family and neighbours for support in making decisions.
„X If there is anyone on your property whom you don't want there, ask them to leave. If they do not do so promptly, call the police.
„X Family, friends and neighbours, please keep an eye on each other - be a good neighbour.