Watch out for landscaping scams – Greene Publishing, Inc.

Heather Ainsley

With the recent bout of harsh weather, everyone’s garden is guaranteed to be looking a little lack-luster right now. While we anxiously await the opportunity to do some much-needed landscaping this spring, residents must be on the watch for potential landscaping scammers. These scams usually involve mulching or pine straw installation services. Here’s what to look for:
A knock on your door will reveal an individual claiming to work for a landscaping company that you’ve likely never heard of. They may tell you that they just finished up a nearby landscaping job and have several bales of hay or bags of mulch left over. They will offer this excess to you for an incredible deal, giving you a discount that seems a little too good to be true. Once you agree and pay for the straw or mulch, they will promptly get to work. This is where the scam comes in.
The landscaper will sneakily lay down less straw than he said he would, and then, leaving the job unfinished, will approach the resident again, demanding more money for more straw in order to get the job done. If the resident refuses, the scammer is likely to get highly agitated, even becoming confrontational and aggressive, in an attempt to intimidate the resident. Often, a resident will give in and pay the extra amount just to end the altercation or get the landscaper to leave.
Officials recommend that any individual who feels pressured into accepting unsolicited lawn services, or is suspicious about a door-to-door landscaping offer, should limit contact with the individual, and call law enforcement.
On occasion, a landscaping company may go door to door to sell a special promotion, and not every individual who does this is a scammer or should be treated like one.
According to Chapter 501 of the Florida Statute, individuals who engage in certain door-to-door solicitation activities that sell, lease or rent consumer goods or services with a purchase price in excess of $25 are required to obtain a Home Solicitation Permit. A legitimate company should have no issue with providing this to you if requested. If they don’t have their permit on them, ask to see a business card, and browse any websites, social media and reviews to check the validity of the business.
Before any individual begins working on your property, get the terms of the agreement in writing. This should include the scope of the job, the quantity of the materials and the price to be paid. When the company brings in supplies, pay attention to ensure the appropriate amount of supplies have been brought. If you feel you are being harassed by a door-to-door salesperson, call 911. Remember, if a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

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