Attorney general files price gouging suit against company that worked in Wilmington

Attorney general files price gouging suit against company that worked in Wilmington
In addition to the lawsuit, a judge filed temporary restraining order against A1 Tree and Storm Relief.

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - A lawsuit has been filed against a tree-removal company doing business in the area after Hurricane Florence. Friday, North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein announced his office is taking action against Alva Wilson Lewis, doing business Big Al & Sons Tree Service, A1 Tree & Storm Relief, and A1 Tree and Storm Damage Relief, which are all based out of Lexington.

Stein says the company is listed by the Better Business Bureau of Central North Carolina as one of the “Dirty Dozen” businesses because of the number of complaints against the company.

“They went to a Wilmington resident and quoted a price of $4,000 to remove three trees, which, that’s all well and good,” Stein said. “But in a typical bait-and-switch move they said, ‘No, no , no. It’s going to be $7,000.' Then when they submitted the invoice, it was for $12,000.”

Stein says his office filed a lawsuit in Raleigh to stop the company’s business practices.

A judge also issued a temporary restraining order against the company.

“What we want folks to know is do not do business with somebody that’s not legit,” Stein said. “And we want businesses to know if you violate North Carolina’s price gouging law, we’ll hold you accountable.”

Stein says his office can’t stop the company from doing work until a judge makes an order.

“It’s up to a court,” Stein said. “My office can’t make an order. What we can do is go to court. We filed this action today. We’re going to seek an injunction early next week where we ask the judge to order this business to stop its practices, to stop doing work in North Carolina, but that’s the court’s decision.”

Stein encourages consumers to contact his office if you believe you’re a victim of price gouging. There are several options to do so. You can file an online complaint at NCDOJ.gov/gouging or you can call 1-877-5-NO-SCAM. Consumers can also call the Attorney General’s office to get advice on businesses following the storm.

"If you're out there and you're considering whether doing a contract with somebody, just call our office before hand and find out if there are complaints against that company," Stein said. "Find out if the way they're trying to pressure you to do a contract is a red flag. We have people here who have great experience protecting consumers, and we want to help."

The tree-removal company Steins office filed a lawsuit against has no relation to A-1 Tree Service, LLC out of Hampstead.

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