83-year-old warns of local tree company that took her money, left a mess in her yard

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. – A Kansas City woman is warning other homeowners about a tree service company that she claims didn’t finish the job she paid for.

A tree in Esther Buzard’s backyard fell during a heavy downpour. In August, a sales representative from United General Contracting knocked on her door and asked if she wanted them to remove it.

“He said, 'We’re going to do a pristine, clean job. We always do a clean job,'" Esther said.

Two months later, the 83-year-old regrets paying for their unsolicited service.

“It hurts my heart that anybody would take advantage of an old woman,” she said while crying.

Esther hired the company, based out of Lexington, Missouri, to do the job and paid them $1,150 in full.

“He was so in my face about it that I thought, well I guess I better go ahead and do this or I’m not going to get the rest of the job done,” she said.

They made a deal in writing. The “contract,” which was written with a marker on another business’s stationery, read, “cut up fallen tree over creek, haul brush off near side, leave wood wear it lays.”

Esther said she stressed repeatedly to the sales representative that they need to remove the tree from her property as part of the deal.

“He just started with this talk. It was like gibberish and I said, ‘I don’t understand a thing you’re saying.’”

Esther said the crew completed part of the job, but they wanted more money when they came back the next day.

“He said, ‘Well, if I can’t get more money, then I’ll just have to tell my crew to leave, that they’re not going to get paid,’” she recalled.

Esther didn’t have more money to give.

“I went into the house for maybe five minutes, looked out and they were gone. The equipment was gone,” she said. “They never said goodbye, just gone.”

On Thursday, FOX4 called the owner of United General Contracting, Johnathon Havrila. He was familiar with Esther’s situation and stated that the sales rep who negotiated her deal was no longer with the company.

“There was a couple of miscommunications on a couple of jobs that he had represented us on,” Havrila said over the phone.

When asked if his former employee botched Esther’s deal, he replied, “I mean, I guess it could have been obviously, or we wouldn’t be having this conversation.”

He said he needed a day to figure out how to make things right.

“I’ll give you a call first thing in the morning,” he said.

That never happened.

“I would never recommend them,” Esther said.

She can’t afford to pay another company to remove the tree that’s become an eyesore in her backyard.

Esther said she wants United General Contracting to either finish the job or give her money back.

“That’s all I ask,” she said.

An online search of United General Contracting shows similar complaints to Esther’s by other customers.

The company has an 'F' rating with the Better Business Bureau, and court records show the owner United General Company has been sued multiple times.

FOX4 Problem Solvers have done several stories about shady tree removal companies in the Lexington area and recommend homeowners be cautious and do their research before making any payments.

Editor's note: Less than an hour after this story aired on FOX4 News at 9 p.m. Friday, another local company reached out, offering to help Esther -- for free! 

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