CONSUMER ALERT: Beware lawn care services that won't let you go

Don't Waste Your Money

Every summer, many homeowners give up on trying to grow a lawn, and decide to hire a professional.

But one homeowner almost had his credit ruined because of a very common misunderstanding with a lawn service.

Thought He Was Done

Mark Schmidt decided to do all his own lawn care this year, from mowing to fertilizer.

But, unfortunately, a lawn service company decided to do it too, and that led to a serious problem,

"I came home from work one day," Schmidt said, "and there's a little yellow flag in my lawn saying they had applied fertilizer. They put a bill in my doorknob, and I didn't authorize any of it."

How did it happen?

Schmidt says he hired a lawn care service last year, but months later, his lawn had just as many weeds as before. So he made the decision not to renew.

"I was done," he said. " They sent a couple of mailings over the winter and I ignored it, thinking they were advertisements."

 It turns out, though, they were not ads, but cards stating his service would be continuing this spring.

His lawn service, like many others, has an "auto-renew" clause in its contract: Unless you write to cancel, you are renewed for another year.

So they gave Schmidt a spring treatment, then threatened to send him to collections for not paying the $60.

"I feel like it's when I was college in the 90's, with one of those CD clubs where they just keep sending them and sending a bill."    

So we called the lawn company, which agreed to drop its billing.

Lesson to All Homeowners

Schmidt says he's learned a lesson: ask whenever hiring a recurring service what the terms are, and how to cancel.

With any service, always ask when you can get out of your contract, and find out if it renews automatically.

That way you don't suddenly find yourself turned over to collections, and you don't waste your money.


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