Storm Chasers: How To Ensure You Don't Get Scammed - WJBF-TV ABC 6 Augusta-Aiken

Storm Chasers: How To Ensure You Don't Get Scammed

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Aiken County, SC -

After the storm moves out, storm chasers move in, and we wanted to let you know what to look for to ensure you don't get scammed.

How far do people travel to trim a tree?

"Wisconsin, Minnesota, Virginia," Michael Gibbons rattled off.

Companies from all those states wound up on Gibbons' front steps in Aiken.  In spite of all these trees and branches littering his yard, he said he plans to wait and keep his business local.

"Some I'm sure are fine individuals, but I don't know these people and them showing up and knocking on your door is a little unsettling," he said.

One of his neighbors whose yard was also a massive mess had a much more unsettling conversation with one of those companies: As the conversation went on about climbing and trimming and those trees, the price climbed too.

"Here there was someone coming in and all of a sudden changing the price on me, so I didn't get a good feeling with it," Sandra Yochum said.

Price gouging isn't only a concern for tree removal. After the storm, electricians are in high demand too.  One local electrician said his customers have had out-of-town estimates that doubled and tripled his.

"I did have a lady a few blocks over who had a guy charging 650 dollars for the same job we were going to do for 250 dollars," Eric Presnell said.

Even if an out-of-town fix seems penny wise, it could be pound foolish:  It can be harder to know if out of town workers are bonded and insured.  But why should you care about that if you just want the mess gone?

"If they cut a tree down, what if it falls on your house, what if it falls on your car, what if it damages your car, how are you going to pay for that if they aren't insured," North Augusta City Administrator Todd Glover explained.

Officials say to look for proof of bonding and insurance, not just a sexy sales pitch.

"You'll see them advertising as 'disaster response teams.' That's just how these companies are advertising.  It doesn't mean you have to use them."

Glover also suggested that you not pay for services ahead of time.

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