GREENSBORO, N.C.-- When you hire someone to do work at your home, doing your homework is key.

A Greensboro woman says it could've saved her a lot time and trouble.

Nancy Sutphin hired a local company to remove trees from her yard, but was left with a huge mess.

She and her husband are out more than $7,000. They turned to WFMY News 2's Taheshah Moise for help.

We've chosen not name the company, because the couple is still working with the business to resolve the issue.

Nancy says she hired a company last Tuesday to remove six trees in her yard because they offered the best deal and could get the job started the next day.

Nancy says her first mistake was not looking them up through the BBB.

"They have an F rating with the Better Business Bureau," she found out.

A day later, she says they took down three trees and hauled some of the wood away.

"They did leave some debris at that time assuring us that they would be cleaning that up," she explained.

Mistake number two: She never got anything in writing.

Kevin Hinterberger, CEO of the BBB Serving Central NC, says a having a contract is a must.

"The work that's going to be done needs to spelled out and the work that's not going to be done needs to be spelled out as well," Hinterberger said.

Mistake number 3: After part of the job was done, Nancy's husband paid the company just over $2,000 with a check written out to one of the workers and not the company.

On Thursday, the company came back to cut down the remaining trees, but still never removed the debris out front. Instead, they added to it.

Hopeful the work would be completed, Nancy's husband paid them again. This time it was a pair of payments-- a check worth more than 15 hundred dollars and $4,000 in cash. That was mistake number 4.

"Much to our chagrin we paid in good faith and trusted." Nancy said.

Then on Friday, three days after the work started, Nancy started to call the company. When she did get them on the phone she kept getting the runaround. It went on for days.

When she finally got a hold of the company, they said they would clear the debris Tuesday morning.
Tuesday came, but the company didn't show.

"Life's lessons are hard. But the hardest lessons learned are the ones you never forget." Nancy said.

After WFMY News 2 called the company Tuesday, one week after they made the initial agreement, they said someone would be over Wednesday to remove the debris.

They removed part of it and said they would be back Thursday for the rest.

Here are some other tips from the BBB:

  1. Be wary of people going door to door and offering a too good to be true deal on tree or other contractor work for your home.
  2. Check for out of state license plates.
  3. Don’t pay any money up front for services. Many consumers have told BBB stories about giving a down payment for work to be completed and the contractor telling them that need to go to the store for some supplies and then not returning to do the work.
  4. Get it in writing! The work to be performed should be clearly spelled out in a contract. For example, if you are getting a tree cut down and you want the stump removed, be sure that it is in writing. Don’t make assumptions and don’t take the contractor’s word for it.
  5. Don’t get pressured into agreeing to having work done right now. Take your time and get several estimates before agreeing to have work completed. A good deal today will be a good deal tomorrow too!
  6. Check with BBB to see what the contractor’s letter grade rating is.