Tips from the Better Business Bureau on hiring a lawn service:
In 2013, BBB received more than 3,400 complaints against lawn care services. Many of the complaints were about shoddy workmanship, damage to lawns, failure to honor warranties, and billing and collection issues. Another issue is “ghosting,” in which lawn care employees show up, put some signs on the lawn indicating they did work, and simply drive off.
Consumers can avoid most of these problems by researching prospective lawn care companies and keep the following tips in mind:
Know what you want – Have in mind the types of services you are seeking (fertilizing, weeding, aerating, mowing). Ask about the products used (seed, fertilizer, weed killer), request a lawn inspection and estimate, and be wary of any company that quotes a price without first seeing your yard.
Understand pricing – While price is certainly a major factor in any purchasing decision, find out exactly what you are getting. Do you pay by the mow or by the week? What happens when it rains? Does mowing include edging? Do they mulch or bag the clippings? Are services performed by employees or sub-contracted out?
Check first - Make sure the company has an up to date license as required by your jurisdiction, when appropriate. Always check the company’s BBB Business Review at bbb.org. Ask for references and check the company’s affiliation with national franchises or associations.
Scrutinize the contract – Some contracts automatically renew unless you specify otherwise – If you do choose to sign a long-term contract, make sure you get information about cancellation rights in writing, in case you find the services to be unsatisfactory.
Understand the warranties and guarantees – If the service is not to your liking, or the lawn doesn’t look as you anticipated, understand what recourse you may have.
Shop around - Get written estimates from at least three different companies. Keep in mind that the cheapest estimate is not necessarily the best option. You may have to invest a little more for higher quality products and services.