‘I’m not ripping people off’ says local tree service accused of leaving a customer stumped

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Bill Burwell is trying to get to the root of a problem

“They were supposed to grind out the stumps and the roots?” asked Action News Jax’s Ben Becker, ”How’d that work out?” “It didn’t work out at all,” said Burwell.

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According to a contract, Burwell hired a company called A Integrity Tree Surgeons on March 19 to “Remove one oak tree in front yard, cut and haul all debris.” The contract also noted, “Per conversation, stump will be ground when stump grinder gets out of the shop.”

Burwell says the stump was finally ground out on April 30, but a mound of debris was left behind.

He also says a quarter of the stump was still in the ground and after numerous failed attempts to reach the tree company, Burwell hired another business to finish the job for $275.

“How frustrating is this?” asked Becker. “It’s unbelievably frustrating. You pay someone upfront for a service to be completed and that’s all I wanted them to do,” said Burwell.

Becker called the company but there was no answer.

Becker went to the listed address of the owner — Byron Davis — to get answers, and someone who answered the door said Davis wasn’t there.

”That like his truck?” said Becker about a truck in the driveway. “Yeah work truck,” the man responded.

It turned out Davis was home and came out a few minutes later.

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“I’m not ripping people off,” insisted Davis. ”Are you willing to go over there (Burwell’s home) now and talk to him? His home is not too far away,” said Becker. “I’m willing to, yeah, definitely,” said Davis who then drove to Burwell’s home and Becker brought the men together, face to face.

“Bill, Byron, Byron, Bill,” said Becker.

So what about the contract?

It says at the top “cut and haul all debris,” but the fine print says there’s often “a bit of a mound” and “if a customer desires complete removal of the mulch, this service is available at an extra charge.”

Davis: “You have a tree in the backyard?”

Burwell: “I do have a tree in the backyard,”

Davis: “Can we look at it?”

Burwell: “Sure.”

Davis offered to trim another tree to settle the dispute, but Burwell wasn’t ready to go out on a limb.

“To be honest I’m not sure,” said Burwell.

Davis’ T-shirt says he is licensed and insured.

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In an Action News Jax investigation, Becker discovered to be licensed in Duval County, you only need a business tax receipt to operate.

“It doesn’t mean anything at all other than you paid your taxes to have a peddler’s license in Jacksonville,” says Action News Jax law and safety expert Dale Carson.

Duval County Tax Collector Jim Overton texted Becker that a tax receipt “does not purport to be a license or to assure the public of competence.”

What about Davis’ insurance?

Davis sent Becker a copy of his liability insurance — but it shows it became active on June 22. When Becker asked Davis for proof of insurance prior to that date, Becker never received it.

“If a tree falls on your house you will be responsible, not the individual who cut that tree down,” says Carson regarding if someone damages your home or is injured on your property and doesn’t carry insurance. “You just don’t take the piece of paper from somebody,” adds Carson. “You call that insurance carrier and ask are these people current, that’s the way that’s done.”

Becker told Burwell his findings and received a text message that he was cutting his losses saying “I don’t want Integrity Tree Surgeons (Byron) to do any additional work on my property” adding, “I appreciate you standing up for the consumers the way you do.”

According to the Florida Department of State, “A Integrity Tree Surgeons” registration was previously dissolved in 2015 and 2020. It finally was renewed on June 1, one day after Becker started asking questions.

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