CHARLESTON COUNTY, SC (WCBD) -- Several families contacted the News 2 I-Team about tree removal services. Some of them say they paid money up front, but the company never did the work.
81-year-old Glenna White was approached by a man with Arborscape Tree Preservation about two trees in her backyard. The roots could affect her home's foundation.
White paid $825 up-front to the company, who, she says, promised to return to complete the work.
But, she says, no one came back. Now, she wants her money back
"We're both on social security. That's what we live on. So, we're on a fixed income. And, $825 might not sound like a lot to some people, but it is to us," said White.
The I-Team contacted the company's owner to try to get some answers.
After trying two phone numbers, leaving three voice mails, plus making a trip to the address listed online, David Christmas, the company's owner, called back.
He explains the delays in service are due to a large influx of projects in the last few months. He says his workers were hurt and pieces of equipment were stolen.
"We've had some scheduling issues, and in that scheduling issues, we've tried to talk to our clients, reach out to them. In the last several weeks to a month we've hired a new set of admin staff to let people know about our current situation and how we've nearly tripled in business," said Christmas.
Now, he says he is trying to either pay back all the money he owes or finally perform the service.
He says in Glenna White's case, there were issues with the permit process. He promises to contact her again.
But the News 2 I-Team asked, why would he need his clients to pay up-front?
"Back in 2007, we switched to make sure we took a deposit down because we started finding there were clients, and to this day, tens of thousands dollars wouldn't be paid," Christmas said.
He says he also uses the money to pay for permits and pieces of equipment he might need.
Martha McFadden says lightning struck a large tree in her yard back on June 30.
She says an employee with Arborscape Tree Preservation approached her after the man had been working at her neighbor's house. He said he'd take the tree down the following week and took a $1,200 deposit.
"A day or two later, the gentleman next door tried to call him with no response. We tried several times with texts and on the phone. A lightbulb went off, and we thought maybe they're not legitimate," said McFadden.
While they were trying to reach the company to schedule a time for the tree's removal, another tree limb fell.
She decided to cancel the contract with Arborscape Tree Preservation and asked for her money back.
She hired a new company to remove the tree. In that case, she didn't have to pay a cent until the entire tree was gone.
"People can't take your money that can't perform a service," said McFadden.
"I think the law should take them to jail, myself," she said.
The I-Team also spoke to David Christmas about McFadden's case. He says he has a refund in the mail to them right now.
Police advise you to research a contractor and find other reviews before hiring them.
For Arborscape Tree Preservation, the I-Team found similar complaints to White's and McFadden's, There were good reviews, praising the company's work, listed, as well.
Arboscape Tree Preservation's website claims it is approved by Home Advisor, though the I-Team could not find the review on the Home Advisor site.
Mt. Pleasant Police Inspector Chip Googe has advice if someone approaches you about a service: " Just because somebody's there, don't go ahead and sign right away. Check them out, and check their references, and look for what they've done around the community. Do the research to find out if they're reputable."
He also suggests getting the police involved, even if it may end up being a civil matter.
Remember, if you have something you want the I-Team to investigate, email us at ITeam@wcbd.com
You can also call the I-Team hotline at 843-216-4949.