SPOKANE, Wash. - Picture this, you come home to find your trees, which took years to grow, simply gone. It's what happened to one local woman. She tried to work it out with the man who did it on her own, but when she realized claims on his business card were false, she said "Help me Hayley." She just wanted to remind the community how important it is to really vet whoever it is you're hiring.
"It's very pleasant," Danielle McClenahan said of her neighborhood. "People are really into their yards, gardening and keeping things nice."
We all know blocks like that. They're gorgeous, well maintained and often lined with trees.
"I really like the street and the block because it does have a lot of trees," she said.
But as of a few weeks ago, they're down two.
"No trees," she said. "My trees were gone. They were already loaded up."
Danielle is new to town. She moved here for work and immediately fell in love with the home she ultimately purchased. She couldn't help but immediately notice the nice trees.
"They were definitely a factor," she said. "I know it's just a mistake but for me, it's a pretty big one. It does feel violating that someone came on my property and removed material, removed trees, that I actually really liked."
Danielle was at work when the trees were cut down by someone she did not know and did not hire. Family members were inside, but by the time they realized the revving chainsaws were coming from Danielle's yard, it was too late.
"I guess he just got the house wrong," she said. "There was someone named Ruth he was trying to find."
A simple mistake? Maybe, but then the family says they were told something else that left them troubled.
"He said he was mostly going off the tree kinds, types of tress, and he was looking for a house that had that kind of trees," she said. "He must have thought this must be the right house. But to me it's like, why not talk to a person before you start the work?"
Danielle says her loved ones were able to save a lilac bush he was heading over to next; but for her trees, the damage was done.
"Now I have this nice big hole," she said. "It's just ridiculous."
A neighbor helped Danielle find someone to clean up the area and removed the stumps. For days, she held off from contacting Hayley.
"[The man who cut down my trees] said he was going to try to make it right," she said.
He even left behind a business card so Danielle could connect with him. But after several dodged phone calls, and police telling her there was really nothing they could do, she went out on a limb and called our Hayley.
"Maybe you'll be able to get in touch with him," she said to Hayley.
Immediately, Hayley did, and passed the phone to Danielle.
The conversation got a little heated, ultimately ending with him asking why Danielle couldn't, "Sue him like a normal person?"
He told Danielle he would try to make it right, but several days have passed without any word. Danielle doesn't expect to hear from him again, but what she really wants is to warn others.
She hopes what happened to her will serve as a reminded to anyone out there taking bids for a job, to do their homework. It's something that won't just benefit you, but all fellow homeowners in case a mistake like this happens again.
A quick search on the particular man and business who Danielle dealt with shows claims on his card or being both licensed and insured were not adding up. Washington State's L&I records show the business to be inactive. The Washington State Department of Revenue had nothing to support them as a legit business either. We found the same thing when we tried the verify if they were in fact insured.
Experts say businesses who are on the up and up, will have the documentation you can easily access to prove it. Danielle says if her disaster saves even one neighbor from cleaning up a similar mess, looking at it won't sting quite so much.
"This just seemed like a great way to raise awareness," she said. "Know who you're hiring."
Because this man operates under a common company name, we are not going to identify it. What we can do is provide you with the links you should check before making any hires.
If you are a landscaping company willing to help Danielle in any way get her beautiful yard back, please send Hayley an email (email@example.com) and she can connect you with Danielle.