Tree trim rip-off

Western Power slugs locals with $419 fee

WESTERN POWER is threatening to charge residents who fail to trim their own trees “a minimum of $419” to do it for them.

One Voice reader describes the threat as “absolute extortion”.

He’d received a note in the mail warning him to trim his trees within 30 days or Western Power’s contractors would do it for “a minimum of $419”.

“If it’s a 10-minute job is it still going to be $419?” he asked, gob-smacked. “I reckon if you got a pruner into do that job, he’d charge you $100.”

The reader ended up tying a pole to a handsaw and lopping off a few branches himself in a few minutes.

Jon Dodd from Arborcomm tree management solutions says “it’s a complete bloody rort”.

“Their prices are always going to be two or three times what a normal contractor would charge.”

He says there’s a conflict of interest because the contractor who inspects the trees and warns residents is the same company that picks up the work down the line.

Mr Dodd says he’s seen Western Power’s contractors nominate trees for compulsory pruning that don’t need work and aren’t going to grow any bigger.

“It’s a complete rort, I’m constantly telling people to ring up their local member.”

Western Power’s head of field operations Brad Lacey says the number was arrived at after consultation with the WA Tree Guild. He says the fee includes three site inspections, cutting, chipping and debris removal, administrative costs and, where necessary, a cherry-picker.

“About 95 per cent of our customers follow advice from Western Power and remove vegetation from their property that could cause damage to powerlines and the remaining customers who do not follow our advice are invoiced for pruning services.”

by DAVID BELL

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