Tree-trimming scam leaves mess in yard, empty pockets

PORTLAND, Ore. - It could be tempting and convenient when someone shows up at your doorstep, promising to trim your trees for a good price.

But as Michael Sissler and his neighbors in North Portland know all too well, sometimes you end up with unfinished business and a mess in your yard.

Sissler said a man claiming to be an arborist offered to trim the trees dipping over his backyard fence and haul it away on Saturday - all for $80.

But the trimmer did a portion of the work and then said his truck was too full of debris and he needed to go to the dump before finishing the work. The trimmer also said he needed his money upfront for gas and dump fees.

Sissler paid up - and then never heard from the arborist again.

"It was a pretty quick con scheme," Sissler said.

The unfinished project left broken branches and piles of debris scattered in Sissler's yard - some of which were so high he couldn't make it through the yard.

Sissler now believe the scheme is a good reminder to get a written contract from anyone doing yard work and not pay the full amount until the job is done.

"I would be happy to help him out," he said. "He didn't need to lie."

One key thing to look for: A tree trimmer has to be licensed to do the work in Oregon, so check the worker's name with the Oregon Construction Contractors Board and the Oregon Landscape Contractors Board.

If something goes wrong with a licensed arborist's work, you at least know they have bond and insurance and a way to contact them.