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Port Charlotte woman questions lawn care bill worth thousands

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Photo: Video by fox4now.com

Port Charlotte woman questions lawn care bill worth thousands

By Christy Dimond. CREATED Nov 13, 2013

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. - Fox 4 in Your Corner is working to get help for an elderly Port Charlotte woman who believes a Venice lawn care company overcharged her for tree trimming. Before she realized it, 88-year-old Betty Gustafson had paid the company $4,100.

"I'm frustrated, and I feel stupid and I'm sad that I got into this at all," Gustafson said. 

All Service lawn care company was working on a neighbor's yard when Gustafson said a worker knocked on her door saying her trees looked like they needed to be trimmed. Gustafson never had to worry about lawn care previously because her husband always did it, but he passed away last year. 

The lawn care worker trimmed her palm trees, pepper trees and mangroves, Gustafson said, and charged her different prices, ranging from $500 to $1,500 each of the days he came.

"He kept mentioning different amounts, of course I didn't understand it all," she said. 

The $4,100 price tag baffled her relative, Ted Pahl, who found out about the charges shortly after it happened.

"We can't figure out how it could cost that much money to trim a few trees," he said. 

"If you total it all out, it looks like they were charging her around $150 per tree to trim these trees... it's just crazy, the going rate in this area is $15 - $25 per tree." 

Fox 4 made multiple calls to the phone number listed on the company's business card, looking to get an explanation for the charges, but the person who answered hung up right away. 

Gustafson and Pahl said they've also had a hard time reaching the company now that the job is finished. 

"I think she was absolutely taken advantage of," Pahl said. 

Attorney Adam Stevens said someone who feels they've been wronged by a company can file a civil lawsuit against the business. 

"There's two statutes that come into play here," Stevens said.  "One is the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act and the other, there's plenty of statutes in the state of Florida that protect the elderly, mostly for exploitation." 

For now, Gustafson and her family hope it doesn't have to get to that level. 

"I would like to see this gentleman step forward and possibly reimburse her for some of the charges," Pahl said. 

The company currently has an "F" rating from the Better Business Bureau.  Fox 4 will continue to push for answers and an explanation from the company.