By John Voket
I know from experience that sometimes, it’s all one can do to get through a long day at the office – who has time for yard work?! This is the case for millions of households who lean on a thriving corps of lawn services and landscape companies to handle the demand for cropped and manicured properties from coast to coast.
But even when it comes to the guy or gal who cuts your grass, let the buyer beware. Our contacts at the Better Business Bureau tell us that in 2013, the agency received more than 3,400 complaints against lawn care services – nearly 100 per day!
BBB says many of the complaints were about shoddy workmanship, damage to lawns, failure to honor warranties, and billing and collection issues. Another issue is “ghosting,” in which lawn care employees show up, put some signs on the lawn indicating they did work, and simply drive off.
Consumers can avoid most of these problems by researching prospective lawn care companies and keep the following BBB tips in mind:
Know what you want – Are you seeking fertilizing, weeding, aerating, and/or mowing? Ask about seed, fertilizer, weed killer used, request a lawn inspection and estimate, and be wary of any company that quotes a price without first seeing your yard.
Understand pricing – Find out exactly what you are getting. Do you pay by the mow or by the week? What happens when it rains? Does mowing include edging? Do they mulch or bag clippings? Are services performed by employees or sub-contractors?
Scrutinize the contract – Some contracts automatically renew unless you specify otherwise – If you do choose to sign a long-term contract, make sure you get information about cancellation rights in writing, in case you need to exercise them.
Understand warranties and guarantees – If the service is not to your liking, or the lawn doesn’t look as you anticipated, understand what recourse you have.
Check first – Ask for references, and check the company’s affiliation with national franchises or associations. Make sure the company has an up to date license as required by your jurisdiction, when appropriate.
And check the company’s BBB Business Review at bbb.org.