It appeared to be a silver lining in a bad news scenario. … It was going to cost our client $2,000 to have a couple of hardwood trees taken down, but the contractor could move her to the front of the line if she signed the contract and paid in advance. You might guess where this is going. The client wrote the check, then waited and waited for the trees to be removed.
More than six months later she called TrustDALE. As the client explained to me, the contractor, Angela of Don’s Tree Experts, would set the appointment, but at the last minute postpone or simply not show up. When Angela of Don’s Tree Experts failed to return TrustDALE’s calls, our team started digging. What did we find? There were dozens of court cases where Angela had been accused of taking money in advance for jobs she did not start or failed to complete.
Wait, what?! This looked more like a crime than a case of a bad appointment secretary. To make matters worse, Don’s Tree Experts’ contract contained a clause that provided she would not be responsible for delays due to rain or acts of nature. This piece of fine print made it very difficult for customers of Don’s Tree Experts to get relief in small claims court because judges would often give the company the benefit of the doubt. Add to this the fact that we discovered Angela of Don’s Tree Experts was an expert at playing the system. She often could not be found to be served a summons, and when she was found, she would request a delay, or simply ditch the hearing.
Be warned, you have just entered what I call the Rip-off Zone. It’s a shady space in our economy where rip-off artists know the courts are painfully slow to pursue and award civil judgments and law enforcement is equally reluctant to file non-violent criminal cases. To make accountability even more difficult, these rip-off artists move from city to city and county to county, trying to avoid actions that would constitute a pattern within a single police jurisdiction. Angela of Don’s Tree Experts was among the best at this I’d ever seen. We discovered civil cases scattered around multiple counties, but when we called local police, we found they’d immediately classified them as non-criminal business disputes. It appeared Angela had found the perfect business model; charge a significant sum, collect payment in advance and fail to provide the service. Talk about a profit margin! I’m happy to tell you Angela was about to meet her Waterloo.
You see, what she didn’t count on was crossing a savvy customer who recognized she could apply for a criminal warrant without the aid of police if she could demonstrate that Don’s Tree Experts had no intention of delivering service. Another client of ours did just that by convincing a Gwinnett County judge there was probable cause to have Angela arrested. That’s exactly what happened, but Angela was still a step ahead. She posted her bond, and knowing how slowly the wheels of justice turn, went right back to her money in advance of work business practice!
Fortunately for Angela of Don’s Tree Experts’ victims, TrustDALE was able to locate a sympathetic police detective who looked at our evidence and agreed the scammer was perpetrating a cruel and intentional crime. A detective with the DeKalb County Police Department further discovered that Angela’s victims were primarily elderly females. When this evidence was presented to a DeKalb County magistrate judge, Angela was charged with several more offenses. I wish I could tell you she’s been stopped, but I can’t. COVID-19 gave Angela the ultimate recess. Though ordered not to participate in the tree-cutting business while out on bail, Angela admitted in a civil hearing she was still running her tree business!
Here’s my point: …
Trying to get relief or justice after you’ve been taken, is a painful and often unrewarding process. This is the very reason I created TrustDALE.com. After 25 years of busting bad guys and telling stories of people who had been burned, I realized I could do a lot more good vetting companies in advance of your purchase. At TrustDALE, every company on our website and Certified Services Guide mailed to your home meets my seven-point investigative process and honors my $10,000 Make It Right Guarantee. What’s more, our service is completely free for you, the consumer! Next time you need a service or product you can trust, just visit us at TrustDALE.com. And if you want to learn more about protecting your family in advance of a purchase, order a copy of my book, “Don’t Get Burned, Get Smart! Seven Steps to Becoming a Savvy Consumer” also at TrustDALE.com.
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