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Thursday, June 7, 2012

$250 an Hour for This?

Really? I called Kansas City's Ryan Lawn and Tree in early May asking for an estimate to trim my trees back away from my house, which was originally supposed to have been done by another contractor last year when I had a tree removed. The original contractor had done MINIMAL work and so the squirrels (who are the source of my problem, having taken up residence in my attic, eating wires and causing other damages) continue to have access to our roof and, subsequently, our attic. Mark came to our house on May 10th, 2012 to give me an estimate on tree trimming and lawn fertilization/seeding.  I told Mark about the other contractor and asked him, as an expert, to estimate what it would cost to trim all trees, allowing access to our roof by the squirrels, enough so the squirrels would not have access for several years to come. Mark’s estimate was not cheap, coming in at $375, but it was worth it to me to stop the squirrels from damaging our home any further.  He gave me the estimate and a very rudimentary drawing showing what work would be performed.  I called the following week to set up an appointment and was told it would be 3-4 weeks.

I received a call on May 24th stating that they could come on Tuesday, May 28th and so I agreed.  The woman on the phone could not narrow down the hours they would be there, stating it would be “that afternoon”.  I had things to do that afternoon, but my wife was home. She said that two guys arrived at 2 PM and never bothered ringing the bell or letting us know they were to start working.  She left a while later on an errand and when she returned at 3:30PM, they were long gone. $375 for an hour and a half’s worth of work seemed a bit extreme, coming to $250 per hour…quite pricey for unskilled labor and considering that I am a licensed psychotherapist with a masters degree and 30 years experience and make only HALF THAT MUCH!

Once I started looking at their work, I noticed that they had trimmed the wrong tree and did not trim two that were on the estimate.  I also noticed that there are two trees next to the house that still allow the squirrels’ access to the roof; trees I had assumed were included in the pricey estimate.  I called Mark on Wednesday, May 29th and left a message explaining the problems in detail.  He called me back and said that someone would be in touch with me that afternoon.  I finally got a voicemail from a guy named Spencer on May 31st stating “I understand you have some questions, if you still have questions, call me back…” I didn’t have questions, I had a job that was incomplete and I wanted it done correctly, so I called Spencer back and left another detailed message.  He never called me back.

Instead, “Matt and Augie” showed-up unannounced and while we were gone on June 4th, trimming one of the trees that should have been done the first time, but leaving the other tree untouched and having done nothing with the other two (which Mark apparently missed in his original estimate).  I had asked Mark and Spencer if I could have those trees done instead of the maple (which is distant from the house), but nobody bothered taking the time to contact me to find out what exactly my concerns were.

For $375, I expected a thorough and professional estimate and work, neither of which occurred. I have spent the better part of this week and too much of my life dealing with incompetent businesses, businesses that do not have a clue what customer service and satisfaction are, treating us with disdain instead of courtesy and dignity.  This was the last straw!

Bottom Line: For $375, I expected a much more thorough job and a result which will protect my roof and attic for years to come.  Instead, I got a half-ass job and additional pruning to do.  After I pay the inflated bill, I think I’ll go to Home Depot to get the equipment and do it myself because I SEEM TO BE THE ONLY PERSON I CAN TRUST TO DO THE JOB THE RIGHT WAY!  I am cancelling my lawn fertilization and seeding program with Ryan Lawn and Tree, who will receive a D (at best) from me on Angie’s List for wasting my time, doing a poor, overpriced job, and being unable to communicate clearly with a customer when they (me) had a valid complaint.

PS - I sent the information above to Ryan Lawn and Tree on June 5th, allowing them an opportunity to reach out and try to sooth an unhappy customer. They obviously could care less, which tells us quite a bit about how they operate. Take that into consideration when hiring a lawn and tree contractor in Kansas City.