Warning about tree-loppers who don’t make the cut

  • Consumer Protection intelligence prompts warnings about rogue tree-loppers
  • Home owners are urged to be cautious and know their rights
  • Recent prosecutions and warnings are helping to protect consumers

Consumer Protection is urging home owners to carefully choose their tree-loppers following reports of unscrupulous operators offering their services in Perth.

During the 2019-20 financial year, Consumer Protection received 56 enquiries and 18 complaints about tree-loppers, mostly related to poor or incomplete work, damage to property and unsolicited services.

Consumer Protection has recently prosecuted rogue tree-loppers for breaches of the Australian Consumer Law, including disregard for cooling-off periods and undue harassment in connection with payment for services.   

WA’s electrical safety regulator, Building and Energy, has also raised concerns about some tree-loppers operating in the “danger zone” near power lines without the required certification.   

Commissioner for Consumer Protection Lanie Chopping is encouraging home owners to be cautious about responding to letterbox leaflets, advertisements and door-knockers without first doing some checks on the business.

“There are some excellent tree-lopping services, but beware of rogue operators who may rip you off by taking your money and not completing the job,” she said.

“They may offer discounts and attractive prices, but this could turn out to be more expensive in the long run. We’ve also had reports of tree-loppers arriving uninvited at homes to carry out work that hasn’t been agreed to.” 

As well as getting more than one quote for the work, consumers should search for online reviews and check that the tree-lopper has a valid ABN or ACN. The person should be able to show their insurance coverage for any damage and, if working near power lines, a Building and Energy vegetation code of practice certificate.

Information from Arboriculture Australia (arboriculture.org.au) and the Tree Guild of WA (treeguildwa.asn.au) may also be useful.

“Consumer Protection has successfully prosecuted rogue tree-loppers, but some may fly under the radar by using different business names,” Ms Chopping said.

“Some individuals have used fake names, so ask to see ID if you have any concerns.

“Also be aware of your consumer rights. If you have invited a tradesperson just to provide a quote and not to do work, you are entitled to a cooling-off period. This means you can cancel the contract with no penalty if you change your mind.”

The quote should provide sufficient detail about the agreed work, such as grinding a tree stump to below ground level rather than leaving it visible.

“Also try to pay only a small deposit as you may have little bargaining power if you’ve paid the full amount and issues arise,” Ms Chopping added.

“Contact Consumer Protection on 1300 30 40 54 or at consumer@dmirs.wa.gov.au if you have a tradesperson at your premises and you’re not sure what your rights are.”

Recent Consumer Protection tree-lopper warnings and prosecutions include:

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Media contact: CPmedia@dmirs.wa.gov.au

Building and Energy / Consumer Protection
Media release
18 Mar 2021

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