Better Business Bureau Serving Greater Cleveland
Complaints Starting to Pile up on Snow Removal Services
Sue McConnell, Senior VP
216.623.8964 x 109
For Immediate Release – February 8, 2010 – Cleveland winters can be unpredictable, but your snow removal service shouldn’t be. Every year, BBB Serving Greater Cleveland receives complaints from homeowners who were left to dig themselves out of their driveways when their snow removal services failed to show up or, in some cases, abruptly went out of business. This year is no exception.
Complaints about Prestige Landscape & Design, a Mayfield Heights company, began arriving at BBB after this winter’s first heavy snowfalls in January. A Beachwood resident told BBB, “I have a contract with Prestige snowplowing for snowplowing services for the 2009-2010 season which is paid in full, $170 x 2 (2 houses), for the entire season. However, they have never once plowed my driveway and after the big snowfall in January, I had to find another company and pay another company to come plow my driveway. They will not pick up their phone. I have left multiple messages and they have never called me back. I have never seen their plowtruck come to my house.”
Prestige has a history in BBB files of similar complaints from last winter. Several homeowners complained that the company failed to provide contracted snowplowing and left them with no recourse but to shovel their driveways or pay another service at additional costs. Customers also reported Prestige would not return calls. Prestige has an “F” rating with BBB for failing to respond to complaints.
BBB has also received complaints about Shawn Fleming Snowplowing, a Mentor company. A Mentor woman told BBB she paid Fleming $190 but he never showed up to plow during an early January snow storm. When she called him, he claimed he had plowed her drive and began to yell at her when she requested a refund. She has since contracted with another company for service. Another complainant from Mentor told BBB Fleming now claims he has filed bankruptcy and lost all but one of his snow plows. BBB has contacted Fleming about several complaints this year but has not yet received any responses.
The BBB offers these tips for choosing a snow removal service:
Choose a Reputable Company – Check the company’s BBB Reliability Report™ at cleveland.bbb.org or by phone at (216) 241-7678.
Get Written Estimates - Don’t just pick the first company that leaves a flyer at your door. Compare the services offered by several companies as well as the prices – the lowest price is not always the best deal. Ask what back up plan the company has if a truck breaks down during a heavy snowfall. Get customer references and call them to see if the company was reliable.
Get a Written Contract – When you’ve selected a company, be sure your contract includes the company’s address and, preferably, two telephone numbers to reach them. The contract should define the length of the service. It should be more specific than just “winter”. Beginning and ending dates should be clearly stated. Some contracts may be for a certain number of snow removals or “pushes”. The contract should also specify when removal will occur (e.g. accumulations of 2 inches or more). Find out what happens if we get a late season snowfall after your contract has ended – what will you be charged for additional pushes?
Insurance – Is the company fully insured in case of damage to property? Be sure to get it in writing on your contract.
Spring Clean up – Don’t assume the company will return in the spring to repair any damage to your lawn or other property – get it in writing.
Payment Terms - If you pay the full price of the contract and the plowing service doesn’t show, you’ll be out of luck. Check to see if you can pay monthly, by the “push” or other terms.
Remember to put stakes or other markers around the boundaries of your driveway to minimize damage to your yard or landscape decorations.