GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — A Grand Rapids woman paid a company to remove several trees on her property but tells FOX 17 after the man started, he never finished and kept giving her excuses.
It wasn’t until she contacted the Problem Solvers that she got everything taken care of.
Ellen Stowie needed four trees removed from her property in East Grand Rapids. In November, she found a potential contractor through an Ada yard sale site online.
“His website had pretty decent reviews; it was a 4.5-star review with a few that weren’t great. You know we all have those,” said Stowie. “Called him up, said he would do the job for $1,200, and I was like, ‘OK, let’s do it.’”
The company was Nature’s Choice Tree Management, and the man who called her back was Nate Breuer. Stowie tells us he agreed to start in March.
“There were a lot of excuses getting to the point of him getting here,” she said. “I sat him down and told him if he couldn’t do this because of medical issues, then just say so; I get that. He was adamant that he wanted the job and he’d be there the next day to start.”
Nate did show up the next day and finished one tree. Ellen says he told her the job was a little more than he thought, so it would be $1,700 instead of $1,200.
She gave him half, $850, but then said he never returned.
“It’s frustrating,” she said, “I mean, we’re OK, but we can’t just afford to be throwing away $800, so I tried being really nice about it, saying, "You know, I got a lot of neighbors, and I could really spread your name fast if you come back and do this work; I will give your name out there, and I will have clients for you.”
She says that’s when the excuses started.
One of them involved an apparent response from his mom that said he had some major medical problems and will get the job completed if she bears with them.
On Facebook, Ellen sent four messages with no response, including one that said she couldn’t keep asking what his plans were and when he’d be back.
When she texted him, she got an automatic response saying her number had been blocked.
When she requested a refund, that too was denied.
“I just was like, ‘OK, this is it. He’s not coming back. He’s got the money. He’s got what he wanted and he’s not coming back.’”
Tired of the excuses and runaround, Ellen contacted the FOX 17 Problem Solvers.
“I was hoping that if somebody had contacted him, maybe that would kinda light a fire and maybe want him to get out there and do the right thing,” she said. “I also wanted to get the word out there so that this doesn’t happen again to anybody else. That’s the most important thing: I don’t want this happening to somebody else.”
When our crews arrived to get video of the job left behind, a tree service across the street was already working on another property.
After they asked us what we were doing they agreed to finish the job that day for $500.
“I’m already here; might as well just help her out and get it taken care of, and then she can be worry-free about it,” said Jake Sprague with the Lawn Ranger.
He understands the concern of having an unfinished tree job, which can cost thousands of dollars.
When he heard about Ellen’s situation, he solved the problem.
“I hate seeing stuff like that,” he said. “Kinda gives the guys in tree work and lawn care a bad rep for just coming in and doing a little bit and then leaving with all your money. So I offered to take down the rest of the one that he didn’t finish.”
“It was so awesome,” said Ellen. “I was just relieved because I’m so sick of looking at a half-cut tree.”
She doesn’t think she’ll ever get any money back from Nate, but still can’t believe the perfect timing.
“I’m grateful for the people who have come together and help me get this done for my original budget; that’s awesome of them to do. Will I get any money back? Probably not,” she said.
When I reached out to Nate for this story, he told me he agreed with Ellen to give her a $300 refund, but before he could give it to her, he ended up in the hospital with heart complications from COVID.
He says he hasn’t been able to work since having a heart attack due to doctor’s orders, but will be sending her the money on Friday.