Clash of the Ash

I’m almost to the final chapter of my adventure with the Forestry Department of Minneapolis.  Back in April, we came home to see our two ash trees in the very back of the yard splashed with green lettering.  Someone had painted our trees.  Having lived through the city’s Dutch Elm debacle (plant thousands, wait too long when it’s clear something is amiss, cut down every one regardless of health, give citizens little to no notice), I was pretty sure this was the end of our ash trees.  Despite knowing for the last two years that this was coming it was a little sad nonetheless.

The green paint was followed by a form left on our front door stating that the city required the trees be removed (of course at my expense) and that they would be collecting quotes from various tree services on our behalf.  I called the Forestry department twice when we didn’t hear anything for a few weeks; at the end of the second call, the department representative made it all too clear that I was to await the letter than would eventually show up and not to call again. 

All summer I’ve looked out the back to see my green-trunked trees, impatiently waiting for the Forestry department to get on with it.  Finally the first week of August we got a letter.  The city had to get a special quote because of where our trees were located on the property line.  At the end of the letter they listed two different quotes.  One was for $3,500.  The other was for $18,000 – this is NOT a typo.  This time when I called the city, I got a more helpful person.  She sighed when I squawked about the 18 grand figure and said she wished that the companies would just say they didn’t want the business.  I was a little concerned that some computer somewhere would assign this company to me but she said I could fill out the postcard that accompanied the last letter with that request.  I told her that I would like to get my own quote – and after a bit, she acquiesced and said I could write that on the postcard as well.

Well, my tree guy came in at half the price (of the lower figure) and is including grinding out the stumps.  They were here yesterday and the whole job, including avoiding all the powerlines and doing all the clean up took less than two hours.  I’m still in shock about the $18,000 quote. 

Have you ever been over charged for something?

57 thoughts on “Clash of the Ash”

  1. Yes I have.
    OT:Yesterday’s post:
    1.In England, and seemingly Spain, Roombas are known as robots.
    2. A weed wrench? Is that like a ferginscraper?
    3. Ha ha, good one, Ben. That buckthorn, as you say, is going to be a pain. For Kelly, with her brand new chainsaw! Good trick, I’ll remember that.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Robot, capital R. Come to think of it, I think it says Robot on the box that Jane’s one came in. I’ll look, next time I’m shifting things around.

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  2. Rise and Shine Baboons,

    My first question is, what was wrong with the Ash trees? Ash borer or something else? We had a Certified Arborist come diagnose our dead Ash in the back yard, and he said it was old age. He also bid $3500 to remove it.

    I am sure I have paid too much for a car repair back in the 70s and 80s when cars were pretty junky. There were several lemony cars that cost a lot in constant repair. Then I found a mechanic in Shakopee who was a gem and solved the problems for fair prices (Mike’s Auto Repair). After that I started buying Hondas and nothing needed more than maintainance. The higher price on purchase was much cheaper than than the chronic repair bills.

    While on a trip to the American West in 1993 we encountered a classic car repair scam with our Chrysler van in Park City, Utah. Something small needed a repair on the car so we stopped for the repair—a tire I think, but I don’t remember clearly because of the next issue. The mechanic involved dribbled oil around to make it appear that there was a much larger problem needing a bigger repair overnight for a larger sum. We declined because Lou was sure the mechanic planted the oil. Later in the trip the air conditioner broke in Eastern California, but the alleged issue with the oil was indeed a scam.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. My trees did not appear to have the ash borer but the city identified all of the ash trees because they think they’re being proactive. When more than half of the trees have already died I don’t exactly call it proactive. But I’m not arguing about it either.

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  3. When I had a knee infection and subsequent surgeries, I was given the little push button thingy to self-medicate for pain. The system is programmed so an overdose isn’t possible. I took what I needed. When the itemized hospital bill (total was just shy of ($100,000) came, I noted each push cost $506. My union-provided insurance paid for all the treatment with $2500 being all I paid out of pocket so I didn’t complain. It turns out that that $506 was twice as much as the average cost. Only Ahura Mazda knows how many other overcharges were involved.

    Liked by 3 people

      1. I understand. Few of the problems Adam looks at have simple solutions. Most are intractable and we just have to heave a heavy sigh and cope. A little humor helps.

        Liked by 3 people

  4. I have a funny aside to the story. When I was telling Nonny about this on a phone call last week, she said “how come your computer friends don’t get together with their chainsaws like you did for the other guy?” I have to say but it never occurred to me and after she mentioned it, the thought of tim up on the ladder in the back of my yard with all of those powerlines and the tree growing over my neighbors backyard give me the shivers. just a bit bigger project than baboons and chainsaws can handle!

    Liked by 5 people

    1. “Computer friends” is how she always refers to this group. Despite my having explained it more than once, I don’t think she really understands what a blog is.

      Liked by 2 people

    2. I’m not sure a problem exists that is too big for your computer friends to solve. In fact, your problem might have been too small to trigger the generosity of your computer friends. When “the other guy” had a tree crisis, he was pretty old, sick and poor. He obviously needed help.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. The other guy didn’t have the confluence of powerlines in their backyard enmashed in the trees. He also didn’t need to have two entire trees taken down.

        Liked by 3 people

  5. Probably. Most medical and dental procedures these days qualify as overpaying as well as many prescription drugs.

    Every time I eat at a restaurant I feel I’m overpaying because I’m pretty sure I can produce the same or similar dish for less cost. HOWEVER, I certainly can’t cook as fast as a professional chef, so when the cost of my time is added, it’s probably a wash.

    We overplayed for our first house (the princely sum of $40,000 in 1980) because we couldn’t sell it for anything near that 4 years later and let it go into foreclosure. Hard lesson learned.

    I’ve overpaid at a few golf courses that didn’t live up to their publicity for whatever reason. Conversely, I’ve played on courses where I would have gladly paid much more than I did because they exceeded my expectations.

    Chris in Owatonna

    Liked by 5 people

    1. It’s really about value, isn’t it? My father was fond of saying that something was cheap if it was worth more. Depending on circumstances, $200 or $2000 for something can be exorbitant or dirt cheap.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Exactly. I consider myself a frugal guy, but I will pay extra for true quality and value. Remember the days when Lands’ end clothing was reasonably priced and lasted for years? Now it’s cheaply made and doesn’t last half as long. No value there.

        Chris

        Liked by 5 people

        1. I attributed that to Sears buying into it to enhance the image of their clothing, which was laughable. As you might have predicted, it diminished Lands End’s instead. Sort of like when K-Mart bought into Martha Stewart.

          Liked by 4 people

        2. And funny you should mention Sears’ quality, I was just telling someone yesterday about the David Taylor shirt I bought at the only Sears I’ve been in, on the 9th of June 2002,outside Memphis. It was Jane’s favourite of my shirts at one time, and I now wear it for work, as yesterday. I hope to get twenty years out of it, less than a year to go now. I admit I’m tempted to put it at the back of the rotation a few times, but that’s cheating.

          Liked by 2 people

  6. During the oil boom, services of all sorts were overcharging. Rents skyrocketed, house prices soared. Things have improved somewhat. Tree removal, however, is still really expensive. Our neighbors have two large ash trees that are nuisances. The are misshapen due to losing limbs in a 2005 ice storm, trimmed in such a way that weak branches grew large at all the wrong angles. Many of them hang over our yard, and the neighbors get angry and yell at us if we try to trim them. I pray for a big wind to take them out.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. We have a similar issue with a silver maple in our next door neighbor’s yard. The old man who was responsible for this mess of a tree is long gone, but it continues to be an issue because of the expense of removing it. Meanwhile, it’s a haven for woodpeckers, including a pileated one, and the squirrels love it too. Sometimes you just have to look for the silver lining.

      Liked by 5 people

      1. Well, that is hard to do with these trees. We go to see son and dil in two weeks, and we will try to give them good landscaping advice as they plan what trees they want in their new yard.

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    2. Renee, in England you would be entitled to warn your neighbours, and then go ahead and cut them if they didn’t. But of course, life with neighbours is not that simple.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I was very pleased to find that a tension knob on our fairly new Swedish mixer will be replaced for free after Husband stripped the threads. It holds the dough hook in place. I am worried, though, as it was sent to us from Georgia via the USPS, and the tracking information tells me it is at a postal facility in Puerto Rico, and will arrive here later than expected.

    Liked by 4 people

  8. I have cultivated habits that mostly protect me from overpaying for anything. There was an exception. I went through a difficult time financially but told myself I was using my money well. That turned out to be the time when Wells Fargo, my bank, had policies set up to advance money to customers when their bank accounts got low. Then they charged an exorbitant fee for repaying the loans. I was not disciplined enough to track what was happening. My fault, all the way. I chose a poor time to be sloppy about monitoring my expenses.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I totally understand that situation. Overdrawn account. Make a deposit to cover it but come up short because of the overdraft fees which cause more overdraft fees. My bank would now charge $45/transaction but I haven’t messed up in decades.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. It became the way Wells Fargo did business. This was at the same time WF agents would take out loans for customers without even telling them. I used to get calls from my bank about once a week, urging me to take out more loans.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. I don’t think that’s quite accurate, Steve. They weren’t taking out loans, but they were opening new accounts, including credit card accounts, without the customers’ authorization. Then they’d transfer money from existing accounts the customers did have, to pay for the fees of the newly opened accounts that the customers didn’t know about. It’s kind of mind boggling, really, to think that they thought they could get away with that for any length of time. It’s hard to overestimate how stupid people can be.

          Liked by 3 people

  9. Ash is interesting wood. We harvested quite a bit on friend’s land, brought it back and milled it up. Dry straight grained wood and tough. Wonderful for tongues for hitches, for building stanchions and pens, very pretty wood, interesting colors can appear in the heart wood.

    Liked by 4 people

  10. I got a root canal at the dentist yesterday morning. I tease them, we never get options at the dentist, we’re just told what we’re getting.
    Then in the afternoon I got a viscous injection in my knee; ultrasound guided. They call it the ‘Rooster shot’ as it’s made from the comb of roosters (or something like that). I offered a couple roosters to the docs to make their own if they’d like.
    No idea of the cost since Insurance will cover it (Thank you Adam). But I’m sure its too much. I just hope it helps. I might pay more if it helps.

    Speaking of that… I’ve been shooting at pigeons; we’re getting a lot around the barn. Ammunition has been in short supply for a while. Even a few years ago, 22 shells were out of stock for months, so it’s more than Covid. I stopped at Fleet Farm looking for 20 gauge shotgun shells and they were out. (Actually, they had two boxes of some special kind of shell; it was $53 for 5 shells. Those would be expensive pigeons!) Heard a guy on the phone saying they’ve been out for months. 20 gauge isn’t as popular as 12 gauge. I don’t know why. But we have this 20 because that’s what my brother got for his 16th birthday 50 years ago and it’s what I have now.
    Would you believe a local online auction had 2 boxes of 20 gauge shells? I got in at the last minute and won them. A quick google search showed they were in the ballpark for pricing. The box I am using still has a ‘discount’ price sticker of $7 on the top and I’ll bet they’re 30 years old. Probably came from Tempo or Coast to Coast. The auction win was $31 for two boxes.

    Liked by 4 people

  11. Our son was born in Canada, 10 weeks premature. We didn’t have to pay a penny for his care in the NICU and his 2 months of hospitalization. He was a real bargain.

    Liked by 4 people

        1. Did he have to do anything to retain it prior to reaching a certain age? Rules around these things are quite goofy.

          I was a British citizen until I was twenty-one by virtue of having been born in Newcastle upon Tyne. I did nothing to retain it, so by virtue of ignorance lost it.

          Liked by 1 person

  12. My mother was born in Canada, but was a Scottish citizen, as she went back to her parents’ birthplace before she was a year old.

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  13. I have probably overpaid for many things. I usually overpay on groceries to get a smaller amount of something, when it would be a lot cheaper to buy the big “family size” package. It sort of drives me mad when there is a special on a gallon of milk for $2.00 and the half gallon is $1.89. I still buy the half gallon, because a gallon is just more than I want and it takes up too much space in the fridge. Well, you can complain, but it doesn’t do any good.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. The alternative is to develop a cohort of neighbors who want to share. It takes a little work at the front end, but it works great if you’re in a stable neighborhood. Mine got seriously disrupted when two key households of my network moved out of the neighborhood.

      Liked by 4 people

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