Be Aware of Rogue Traders

What to check for & questions to ask

Rogue trader tree surgeons have been operating all around the UK for many years, however with the current economic climate more and more of them are establishing themselves.

Tree Surgery is a specialist trade and involves far more than someone with a chainsaw and a transit tipper. Tree surgeons undergo thorough training in a wide range of fields including chainsaw maintenance, chainsaw use, specialist climbing, aerial rescue, equipment maintenance and arboriculture. The danger to people and property is very high if tree surgeons do not have the appropriate training, experience and equipment.

All too often now, we hear of disgruntled clients with their horror stories of rogue traders doing atrocious work and then needing to pay again to remedy their trees, we also see the results of bad tree surgery around our local communities which in some cases become a blight on our landscape. It has become such an irritant to us these days that we decided to present some information so that the general public and indeed companies that are requiring the services of a tree contractor can make an informed decision when choosing the right people to do the right job.

Trees-UK complies with all of the guidelines set out below, however we are not the only ones. There are many reputable tree surgery companies working within the South East London Areas including Bromley, Lewisham and Greenwich, by following these guidelines, you can be sure to protect yourself from rogue traders.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why should I not choose a tree surgeon based exclusively on price?

Good tree surgeons have very high running costs to maintain liability insurance, wages for qualified, experienced staff and good tool maintenance amount others. Rogue traders have none of the above costs and so can quote very cheaply.

If done poorly, bad tree surgery can lead to:

  • Injury to people
  • Damage to property
  • Serious damage to your trees that have taken many years to grow

Who is liable if anything goes wrong?

A good tree surgeon will have public and employers liability insurance (recommended minimum £5 million) which will cover themselves, any employees and any 3rd parties affected by an accident. Rogue traders very often keep their prices down by bypassing overheads such as insurance premiums. In the event of an accident, you may find yourself liable for injury to people and/or property if a 3rd party is involved.

What qualifications should I check for?

The governing body for tree surgery qualifications is the NPTC (National Proficiency Tests Council). As a bare minimum, a good tree surgeon will hold the following certificates or the equivalent to:

  • CS30 – Maintenance of the chainsaw, on site preparation and basic cross cutting
  • CS31 – Fell and process small trees
  • CS38 – Climb a tree and perform aerial rescue
  • CS39 – Use of a chainsaw from a rope and harness
  • First Aid at Work

Any additional NPTC qualifications, Royal Forestry Society qualifications or degree level qualifications demonstrate more advanced training. Reputable tree surgeons pay a lot of money for their ongoing training; this is generally why they will be more expensive than their unscrupulous counterparts.

What questions should I ask an Arborist?

  1. Are you insured?

If yes, ask them to show evidence of their Employers and Public Liability insurance (recommended minimum £5 million). If they cannot prove their insurance, don’t use this contractor

  1. Do you work to a British Standard?

If yes, which one? They should tell you they work to BS3998: 2010 Tree Work – Recommendations

  1. What qualifications do you and your staff hold?

They must have as a minimum NPTC certificates for chainsaw use both on the ground and aerially. Further training and qualifications are recommended. Ask to see copies of certificates.

  1. Will you provide a written quotation?

If no, reject this contractor

  1. Are you a member of a professional organisation?

In the UK there are several voluntary schemes certifying the competence of arborists through examination and/or Continuing Professional development (CPD) including the Arboricultural Association which may include the Approved Contractor scheme and the Tree Care Approved scheme (otherwise known as trust mark). Other arborists may be equally competent, but membership of a professional organisation shows a degree of commitment to good working practices and high industry standards.

  1. Can you provide a reference?

Reputable tree surgeons will be happy to show you examples of their work and provide references.

We hope that this information will help you to avoid the high risks involved in employing rogue trader tree surgeons. Trees-UK are confident in their high levels of service we provide and always encourage customers to get other quotations. We are certainly not the only tree surgeons operating to high standards and are more than happy to recommend other reputable companies for customers to contact for comparable quotations.

Remember, with tree surgery, you really do get what you pay for and if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.