Avoid Rogue Trader Tree Surgeons

Rogue trader tree surgeons operating are on the increase throughout the world with the recent economic turmoil. After reading some horror stories online from members of the public who had hired rogue trader tree surgeons, we wanted to share some information and advice to consider when looking to hire a tree surgeon.

Tree Surgery is a highly specialised skill which involves a lot more than just a team with some chainsaws. Professional tree surgeons and arborists must undertake and complete training in a range of disciplines including arboriculture, forestry, specialist aerial climbing, aerial rescue, chainsaw use and maintenance, and maintenance of all other plant and equipment.

There is significant risk of injury to people, as well as an inherent danger to property, if tree surgeons are not suitably qualified and are without the appropriate knowledge, training, equipment and experience.

By following the advice in this article, you can protect yourself from rogue traders and identify professional tree surgery companies.

Questions to ask yourself before hiring a tree surgeon

Is price an indication of quality?

Good tree surgeons have high running costs to maintain liability insurance, keep their training up to date, attract and retain high quality staff who are both qualified and experienced, and purchase and maintain good quality plant and tools. Rogue traders do not incur these costs, so they can operate and quote more cheaply in comparison.

Poor quality tree surgery can cause:

  • Injury (even death) to people
  • Property damage
  • Serious damage to target and surrounding trees

Who is liable if anything does not go to plan?

Professional tree surgeons should have public and employers liability insurance (the recommended minimum is £5 million), which covers; themselves, their employees and any 3rd parties affected. Rogue traders very often keep their prices down by bypassing overheads such as insurance premiums. In the event of an accident, you may find yourself liable for injury to people and/or property if a 3rd party is involved.

Does the tree surgeon hold any professional qualifications?

The NPTC (National Proficiency Tests Council) is the governing body for the UK tree surgery industry. At a minimum, a good tree surgeon should have the following certifications:

  • CS30 — Maintenance of the chainsaw, on site preparation and basic cross cutting
  • CS31 — Fell and process small trees
  • CS38 — Climb a tree and perform aerial rescue
  • CS39 — Use of a chainsaw from a rope and harness
  • First Aid at Work

Any additional NPTC qualifications, such as Royal Forestry Society or Lantra qualifications, or university degree level qualifications demonstrate more advanced knowledge and training.

Reputable tree surgeons invest significant sums of money for their continued and on-going training, as well as the regulatory body membership fees; this typically means they are a bit more expensive than their unscrupulous counterparts.

Questions to ask the Tree Surgeon before hiring them

Do you have liability insurance?

If the answer is ‘yes’, you may want to ask for evidence of Employers and Public Liability insurance (the recommended minimum is £5 million). If they answered ‘no’ or cannot proof of their insurance, you may not want to use this contractor.

Do you work to British Standards?

If the answer is ‘yes’, which Standard(s)? As a minimum, the arborist should be able to tell you they work to BS3998:2010 — Recommendations for Tree Work. Additional Standards include, but are not limited to: BS 5837:2012 — Development Site Consultancy.

What qualifications do you and your team hold?

It’s important that all employees and members of the tree surgery company hold adequate certifications. Arborists must hold NPTC certifications for chainsaw use on the ground and aerially. Additional training certificates, qualifications and regulatory body memberships are advised.

Do you provide a free onsite written quotation?

If the answer is ‘no’, you should probably reject this contractor. Providing free onsite written quotes is the normal operating practice for any reputable tree surgeon.

Are you a registered member of any professional organisations?

There are several bodies in the UK which certify the competence of arborists through examination and regular assessment including the Arboricultural Association Approved Contractor scheme and the Lantra certification scheme. Other arborists may be equally competent, but membership of a professional organisation shows a degree of dedication towards high industry standards and best working practices.

Could you provide any references?

Reputable tree surgeons are happy to offer to show examples of their work and provide references of previous customers. Unscrupulous, inexperienced, and rogue trader tree surgeons tend not to be so keen to show off the trail of destruction they have left behind.


We hope the information in this article can help members of the public avoid the significant risks in employing rogue trader tree surgeons.

Epic Tree Care strives to stand out and go beyond the efforts of other tree surgeons. We are confident in our abilities and high levels of customer service. We provide free written quotes, and we encourage our customers to seek other quotations for comparison. We are not the only qualified tree surgeons operating to high standards in our area, and are happy to recommend other companies in the area for comparable quotations.

As a final thought, when you are hiring a tree surgeon, you really do get what you pay for; if it seems too good to be true, then in all likelihood it probably is.

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