Michigan AG orders tree service to cease and desist amid price gouging accusations

Michigan AG orders tree service to cease and desist amid price gouging accusations

LANSING, MI — A notice from the state of Michigan calls on a Florida tree-trimming company to immediately cease and desist what the state calls unlawful business practices.

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel issued a notice of intended action Thursday against Canary Tree Service, following previous complaints of price gouging, and recent social media posts that show the company operating in Gaylord following a devastating tornado event in the area, officials said in a news release.

Related: 2 killed, 44 injured after tornado tore through Gaylord mobile home park and business district

The state has received six executed affidavits from Michigan residents that interacted with Canary Tree Service last summer. The information gathered shows there is probable cause to believe the company is violating the Michigan Consumer Protection Act, officials said.

“The attorney general has probable cause to believe Canary Tree Service has engaged in a pattern of misleading consumers about the nature of the agreements they are signing, the cost of the services it is providing, the potential for financial responsibility for costs not paid for by insurance, and confusing consumers about their legal rights and obligations,” the notice states. “Canary Tree Service also shows a pattern of charging grossly excessive prices for its tree services.

If Canary Tree Service is to continue providing its services in Gaylord, the notice specifies, it must be honest with consumers and disclose the nature of the agreements they are being asked to sign and the costs of the services being provided, officials said.

The tornado resulted in an increased need for tree-trimming services as part of clean-up efforts in the area, officials said. Recent social media posts from Canary Tree Service show the company mobilized in the Gaylord area, compelling state officials to issue the notice ahead of an anticipated court filing.

“The attorney general will not tolerate any effort by Canary Tree Service to persist in imposing inappropriate economic stress upon the victims of storm damage,” the noticed states.

To the extent that Canary Tree Service has already provided services to Gaylord residents impacted by the tornado, under a representation that the residents would not be charged out-of-pocket costs, the company should not apply pressure or make threats to those consumers if the insurance company does not pay the amount Canary Tree Service bills, the notice states.

This applies to services offered either directly or through a collections company.

Canary Tree Services’ time in mid-Michigan began in the wake of another devastating natural disaster, as owner Justin Hartmann traveled from his home in Florida to Midland County after the historic flooding in May 2020.

The notice allows the company an opportunity to provide an assurance of voluntary compliance. Absent such an agreement, the attorney general will file the petition seeking authorization to proceed with a formal investigation, officials said.

The full notice is available to read on the Department of Attorney General’s website.

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