Police fighting price gouging for tree cutting, removal services

Police fighting price gouging for tree cutting, removal services

CHATHAM CO., GA (WTOC) - The Savannah-Chatham Metro Police Department is taking their price gouging warning to resident's one step further.

Officers all across Savannah are getting on the streets and checking prices and licenses on tree cutting services. In one case, catching a possible price gouger with WTOC there.

This is a tough thing to combat, mainly because so much goes into the price of cutting up and getting rid of downed trees. It's hard to know how much is too much. Police hope to send a strong message to price gougers with this enforcement.

It didn't take long for us to find someone charging high dollar to cut up trees.

"He charged a pretty penny," said Viola Jarrett.

This man charged a couple $5,000 to cut up two trees on the ground and take down a third tree that was leaning. After we showed up with police, he dropped his price $200.

Reporter: "They paid $5,000 for that?"

Tree-cutter: "$4,800."

Reporter: "And that's for two trees down and what?"

Tree-cutter: "Three trees.Three big trees. Can you leave me alone?"

We ran these numbers by other businesses doing similar work. Listen to their prices.

"If they're already laid down just cutting them up? And moving them? Probably $600 or $700."

"I'm taking this tree out of this man's front yard. I'm taking a tree out of the back yard. I'm taking a limb off. I'll charge him $1,000," said Zach Alrord, with To the Top Tree Service.

The Jarretts agreed to pay $3,000 for the two trees on the ground and another $2,000 for the one leaning over. Alford has worked for nearly a week and says he hasn't charged close to that.

"I haven't done one over $2,000," said Alford.

"It's expensive, but he wanted them down," said Jarrett.

Police say that mentality - cleaning up at any cost - leaves you susceptible to getting ripped off. In this case, the guys cutting the tree had an expired business license. They told police the price was high because it took extra work to cut the leaning tree.

These patrols should help fight these climbing prices. If Friday was any indication, over-priced contractors are all over. Police are taking their fight to them. The district attorney and state attorney general have said they will prosecute price gougers and fine them up to $50,000.

As we saw Friday, there is still a lot of gray in spotting and prosecuting for this crime. These guys were not charged by police, but are headed back to Atlanta.

Metro Police with some more information to help you not get hooked by crooks. If they seek you out, take notice of a suspect's car and clothes. If you're wanting to hire a contractor, request a business license before you book.

If you suspect price gouging, take pictures and report suspicious activity to 912.652.6500.

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