AG Nessel Investigating West Michigan Tree Company for Alleged Violation of Michigan Consumer Protection Law
LANSING – Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel issued subpoenas seeking testimony and documents from a western Michigan logging company for allegedly violating Michigan consumer protection law.
The subpoenas, authorized by the Otsego County 46th Judicial Circuit Court, were sent to Michigan’s Choice Tree Service, LLC, which provides tree felling, stump crushing, tree pruning and trees and lots and land clearing. The Attorney General’s concerns relate to the company’s provision of emergency services, such as when a storm knocks down a tree or branches on a house or other structure.
As explained in a petition to the Otsego County Circuit Court, the Department of the Attorney General has probable cause to believe that Michigan’s Choice grossly overcharges customers for tree services, has engaged in a pattern of confusing consumers about the cost of the services the business provides. , and breaks promises that consumers will not be financially responsible for costs not covered by their insurance companies. The business owner says the company works directly with insurance companies so consumers can avoid payouts. According to consumer complaints against the company, this was not the case.
According to one such complaint, a Gaylord customer was told by the company’s owner that the company would be charging his insurance to cover the cost of removing four fallen trees after a tornado ripped through the area, and that tree stumps would also be removed. After the work was done by Michigan’s Choice, the stumps were not removed and the client was advised that the company would not remove them. Michigan’s Choice billed the client’s insurance company $20,491.42 to remove the tree, a much higher price than it was expected to expect based on its discussion with the owner. . And that was much higher than what the insurance company determined was appropriate based on estimates it received from other tree service companies. After receiving payment of an adjusted amount of $13,485 from the client’s insurance company, Michigan’s Choice notified him that a lien had been placed on his home for $20,491.42.
In another situation described in the petition, a Rockford consumer’s insurance company was billed over $30,000 for the removal of a single tree that fell on his home. The insurance company refused full payment, fearing a lien would also be placed by Michigan’s Choice.
“I take very seriously the enforcement of state consumer protection laws to protect Michigan residents from businesses trying to take advantage of them, especially when damage is caused by tornadoes, windstorms and other environmental disasters beyond their control,” Nessel said. “I will not tolerate any company that appears to be engaging in shady pricing and billing practices, or that deceives and misleads unsuspecting customers. I encourage any consumers who have a complaint about a company at the file with my office.
The department is reviewing other consumer complaints that describe a similar experience with Michigan’s Choice. Attorney General encourages consumers facing storm damage to research potential contractors for tree services and home repairs online, and insist on written estimates or quotes outlining the work and price before signing any agreements. These steps can help protect consumers against those who might try to take advantage of a stressful situation.
Consumer complaints can be filed online at the Attorney General’s website or by calling 877-765-8388.