Matthew: As Clean-Up Continues, Beware the Greedy


by David D. Holland



Well, we made it through another Florida Hurricane. During Matthew, and in his wake, we’ve seen the very best and the very worst in people. Many neighbors helped neighbors — lending a hand with clean-up, sharing supplies, and stringing electrical cords between homes to share generator power.


Holland Financial

On the other side of the coin, the destruction caused by the storm made some people greedy. A lady I’ve known ten years (we’ll call her Lucy) and her husband had two trees fall onto their home causing roof damage and water intrusion. After contacting their insurance company, they started to call tree service companies, but were greeted by busy signals and voicemail. Finally, “Company A” came out and gave them an estimate. When “Company B” arrived (a company the couple had used once before) they asked to see Company A’s estimate. The employee (we’ll call him Leo) started the hard sell. He said that his price was going to be higher, but that he would do the job TODAY (he said this several times). Lucy, stressed about the huge trees on her home, and anxious about possible rain, was vulnerable. She and her husband would be returning to work, and they wanted to be there to watch the removal. Leo told the couple if they didn’t make a decision on the spot, his company would not return and said Company A would not be back either because “there is so much work out there.”


By 10:30 am, Lucy and her husband had relented and told Company B to remove the trees. “We’ll be back in a couple hours,” Leo promised. It didn't happen. At 4 pm, after many failed calls, Lucy was finally able to reach someone from Company B who acted surprised to hear from her. “Oh, no one called you? My boss said there is no way we can do the job for the estimate; it will be $500 more.” At this, Lucy burst into tears and hung up on Company B. It was late afternoon; she was facing a “lost day” and the probability of starting over.


What happened next? Company B appeared at Lucy’s door 30 minutes after the emotional call and claimed there had been a big “misunderstanding.” For the stress they caused, they reduced the estimate to match that of Company A, but they also kept asking for payment in cash. To that, Lucy’s answer was “no.”


I’m sure this type of thing (and much worse) has played out scores of times in the last several days. Lucy had recognized the red flags, but she was also stressed, frustrated and desperate to have the work done. Don’t succumb to pressure tactics! Trust your gut. Remember, YOU are the one in control!

Have a financial question you'd like answered here? Email: