Buyer Beware - Pine Straw Scam!
If you are not familiar with the pine straw scram, here is the short version. After completing a legitimate pine straw job on the island, the crew of two-to-four men drives around asking residents if they need pine straw in their yard. They offer to install the pine straw at $4 per bale. The homeowner agrees, and the landscapers get to work. However, once they complete the work, the final bill is often double or triple what it should be. The scammers advise the homeowner it took significantly more bails than initially stated. When the homeowner balks at the price and refuses to pay, the landscapers become confrontational and try to strongarm the homeowner for payment verbally. Typically, the owner agrees to pay a portion of the bill, which still is more than they normally would have paid. The men leave and move on to the next victim.
Would you be surprised if I told you this particular scam had been around for years, and it occurs all over the state? Out of curiosity, I asked my friend, Google, about pine straw scams, and on the first four pages of results, I read at least 12 different articles from several different counties in Georgia, and they all had the same story. Please do not become a victim of this scam! Take the following steps to avoid falling prey to these swindlers.
- Use a reputable landscape company with references (and preferably background checks). Anyone can order business cards online and appear to be a legitimate company. Very slick con artists may even give you a neighbor’s name and address and state they just did some work for them. It doesn’t take a genius to open a mailbox to get a neighbor’s name and then use it in their sales pitch to you.
- Get a written estimate, and preferably a contract, before any work begins, and never pay anything upfront.
- Make sure they know to inform you immediately if there will be an increase in cost.
- Contact Landings Security immediately regarding any unsolicited door-to-door sellers. Even unsolicited business cards left in mail tubes are prohibited.
If you are a victim of this scam or something similar, please notify Chatham County Police Department (912-651-4701) and Landings Security (912-598-1982, option 3).