Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine has announced a lawsuit against Thomas Huber, Jr., operating under the business names of Huber’s Tree Care, Capital Tree Service, and Tree Doctor, for multiple violations of Ohio’s consumer laws.
"This individual represented that he was licensed to perform services that he wasn’t licensed to provide," DeWine said. "It’s unfair to consumers when individuals or businesses pretend to hold special licenses when they don’t, in fact, have those licenses."
Thomas Huber, Jr., solicited, offered, and sold landscaping services through door-to-door sales in central Ohio. Huber represented that he was a professional, full-service, certified arborist as well as a licensed pesticide applicator.
According to complaints filed with the Attorney General’s Office, Huber also stated that he could repair ash trees with his “special formula” pesticide. However, according to the Department of Agriculture, Huber is not a licensed pesticide applicator in the state of Ohio. The lawsuit also alleges that in some cases, Huber demanded upfront payments exceeding $1,000 for his services and then failed to provide those services.
The lawsuit charges Thomas Huber, Jr., with violating Ohio’s Consumer Sales Practices Act. Counts include failure to deliver and unfair and deceptive business practices. Huber also is charged with violating the Home Solicitation Sales Act. Violations include failure to provide consumers with a written agreement outlining landscaping services and failure to provide notice of the consumer’s right to cancel. In the lawsuit, Attorney General DeWine seeks consumer restitution, civil penalties, and injunctive relief.
Consumers should take the following steps to protect themselves in landscaping home improvement transactions:
Get everything in writing, including any verbal promises.
Get at least three written estimates from different contractors before selecting a contractor.
Ask the contractor to provide references of past customers, and check those references.
If the contractor represents him or herself to be a “specialist,” “licensed,” or “certified,” ask for documentation and conduct your own research to be sure the representations are true.
Be skeptical of businesses that show up to your door unexpectedly. You have a three-day right to cancel most door-to-door sales, and businesses must give you written notice of your right to cancel.
Check with the Ohio Attorney General's Office and the Better Business Bureau to determine if complaints are on file against the company.
Do not provide full payment up front. Pay when work is finished or for portions of work as they are completed, for example, one-third in the beginning, one-third in the middle, and the final third upon satisfactory completion. Such agreement for payment terms should also be in the written contract.
Consumers who believe they have been treated unfairly should contact the Ohio Attorney General’s Office at www.OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov or 800-282-0515.