A couple paid $100 to have a dead tree removed from their north Modesto front yard on Memorial Day. They now expect the botched job to cost them a few thousand.
Because the itinerant tree trimmer who came by Monday – proffering a business card that reads “Integrity Tree Service, owner and operator Miguel Morales” – apparently didn’t know much about the work he was doing. The man “offered to fell our dead tree. He did ... onto our house and car,” Fernview Drive resident Jack Styer posted on Nextdoor, the private social network for neighborhoods.
Styer said he pointed out to Morales (we’ll call him that since it’s the name on the card) a landscape rock and a yard sprinkler and said he wanted the tree felled between them. “I told him, ‘I can fall it there, so I expect you to fall it there, or I won’t pay you.’ ”
We took the high road, we told the guy, ‘You did the job, we’ll pay you.’
But even when the job went awry and a house gutter and the Mercedes ML350 SUV sitting in the driveway were damaged, the Styers paid Morales the $100 he’d asked.
“We told him we trusted him. We said we knew he’d come back to follow through,” said Mitzi Styer, looking over the damage Thursday morning. “... He was supposed to come back to repair the roof, but we haven’t seen or heard from him.”
In his Nextdoor post Wednesday night, Jack Styer wrote, “He said his friend would come by today and make arrangements to fix the house and he would pay for car damage. Right. Checked him out on DOJ website today. No license, no record. Called the number on his card – disconnected.”
A search of the city of Modesto’s business license database also turns up no “Integrity Tree Service.” An online classified ad for Integrity Tree Service shows no contact information but says the business serves Modesto, Turlock, Winton, Atwater, Merced and surrounding areas.
As the saying goes, ‘Let the buyer beware.’ Just thought this might help someone avoid a similar incident.
Jack Styer, in his Nextdoor post
In the ad, the owner identifies himself as Miguel and writes, “I take pride in the quality of the work that I perform, as well as my relationship with my customers. I hold myself to a high standard of professionalism, as I understand the importance of a safe, and professional job-site. I’m an experienced climber, with the ability to take care of anything you may need done with your trees!”
Doesn’t sound like the guy the Styers dealt with. Jack said the way Morales cut the tree gave him no control over where it fell. “Even at age 15,” Styer said, he knew better.
Mitzi Styer said she holds onto hope Morales will return to do right. She said he seemed desperate for work and told the Styers he had a wife and two little girls he was providing for.
They don’t know. What they do know is the estimate to repair the Mercedes is $1,400, and they have a $500 insurance deductible. And in his Nextdoor post, Jack Styer wrote that he expects to be “out $everal grand after deductibles and homeowners policy surcharge ($750 !)”
Mitzi added Thursday, “We pay the premiums and everyone else gets to go scot-free. ... It’s just a little bitter taste in your mouth” when something like this happens. “When people come by, you don’t want to help them again. But you want to give a break to those willing to do the work.”
Deke Farrow: 209-578-2327