Bullying tree lopper threatens WA consumers: Urgent Warning (Sean Robert Weinthal)
Consumer Protection has issued an urgent warning about a bullying tree lopper who has been threatening WA consumers and has now been charged with harassment and unconscionable conduct.
Sean Robert Weinthal of Wanneroo, who is an employee of West Australian Tree Services, Manageable Tree Services, WA Tree Professionals and also formerly known as Metropolitan Tree Services (deregistered), is facing further legal action by Consumer Protection after being the subject of a large number of complaints from consumers. The complaints are varied and relate to unauthorised work, quality issues, price and damage. Of great concern are the complaints which report disputes over payment escalating into threatening and harassing behaviour.
The new charges are in the process of being served and relate to a couple who allege that they received many phone calls at all hours of the day and night over a period of approximately three days where the caller did not identify themselves. These calls followed a dispute with Mr Weinthal over payment for work carried out by Manageable Tree Services. It is further alleged that Mr Weinthal visited the couple unannounced one morning demanding payment, verbally abusing them and threatening them when asked to leave.
Consumer Protection is also investigating a complaint from a church in Menora after garden waste was dumped on their car park on three occasions when they refused to pay for tree lopping services by WA Tree Professionals, which were not authorised. The priest at the church alleges he was verbally abused and threatened by Mr Weinthal. Additionally, the department is investigating another incident of waste dumping and harassment affecting a couple aged 79 and 81 in Sorrento.
Mr Weinthal was previously charged by Consumer Protection with using coercion in connection with the payment for services by a consumer in Churchlands. His partner Tracey Gordon, who is the registered owner of West Australian Tree Services and Manageable Tree Services, was charged as his employer. In this case, the invoice to the consumer came with a written threat to dump garden waste on their property if they did not pay. Mr Weinthal and Ms Gordon were found guilty and fined $750 each by the Perth Magistrates Court and ordered to pay costs of $1,742 each on 11 February 2013.
Since their court appearance in February, Consumer Protection has continued to receive numerous enquiries and complaints against Mr Weinthal as an employee of various businesses. Concern about his continuing aggressive and threatening conduct with consumers has prompted yet another public warning. The department has previously issued warnings about Mr Weinthal and the businesses he and his partner are associated with in 2006 and 2007.
Commissioner for Consumer Protection Anne Driscoll said Mr Weinthal and Ms Gordon have failed to deliver on all elements of an agreement reached with the department to resolve complaints in a professional manner.
“In discussions late last year between the tree lopping business and Consumer Protection, an agreement on a process of resolving complaints was reached. An important aspect of the agreement was for clearer statements about work to be undertaken when quoting, with a separate invoicing process after the work has been completed,” Ms Driscoll said.
“Many of the other complaints have come from Seniors and women who live alone. These vulnerable consumers have been traumatised by their experiences of being bullied and threatened by Mr Weinthal and this is of grave concern to Consumer Protection,” Ms Driscoll said.
“Typically, Mr Weinthal and other employees of his business carry out tree lopping work after providing a quote, but without proper authorisation from the consumer. Often the consumer is not even at the premises when the work is carried out and the result is generally of low standard.
“An invoice is issued and, if payment is refused, Mr Weinthal responds with verbal abuse and threats of the dumping of garden waste on the consumer’s property as part of a campaign to intimidate consumers into paying.
“Under the Australian Consumer Law, it is an offence to use coercion or undue harassment to force payment. While investigations are being carried out and further legal action is commenced, I would warn WA consumers to consider very carefully whether to deal with Mr Weinthal and the businesses with which he and Ms Gordon are associated, currently promoted as West Australian Tree Services, WA Tree Professionals and Manageable Tree Services.
“The community can be assured that the department is pursuing a number of investigations and is determined to ensure that this trader changes their method of operation.”
For more information and advice on this issue, consumers can contact Consumer Protection by email: email@example.com or call 1300 30 40 54.
Mr Weinthal was the owner of previously registered businesses, Metropolitan Tree Services and Palm and Tree Professionals, which were the subject of a public warning by the department in 2006 and 2007. Ms Gordon was part owner of Metropolitan Tree Services.
Warnings issued at the time can be found at:
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(Consumer Protection is a division of the Department of Commerce)
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Alan Hynd 9282 0961 or 0429-078791 firstname.lastname@example.org
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