The TruGreen experience for one user

jnugMarch 22, 2012

I have never really done this before but it has gotten to the point where I would feel remiss if I did not post something.

TruGreen as you may or may not know is the newer company name for what used to be Chemlawn. Chemlawn as it turns out changed its company name to TruGreen because it had decided to no longer use chemical germination retardants in its products. This information I eventually got far to late from TruGreen Representatives. More on that later.

My primary reason for posting is to identify for folks that apparently TruGreen will automatically renew your service between seasons without your authorization. One representative of TruGreen told me that filling out their customer survey automatically becomes a renewal as there is a renewal clause at the bottom of it. I never filled out their survey. The next representative told me that automatic renewal is part of their service and that TruGreen will renew you without authorization regardless of what you do or do not do.

Thankfully, our new TruGreen Sales Rep called me after visiting to make the point that I had been renewed and that I was scheduled for the following Monday. He did this as a favor to me knowing that I had no idea anybody was on the way out and knowing that I had already applied my spring fertilizer. I need to commend him for that.

On to the service:

When I signed up for this service I showed the TruGreen rep what I was putting on my lawn....Scotts Seasonal Fertilizers. I asked him what TruGreen applies and he responded that they apply the same material only in higher quantities.

I came to find out purely through watching the progress of my lawn and then asking questions that in fact the genesis of their name change was a change form using chemicals including weed and crabgrass germination retardants to materials that do not include any chemical retardants. I was further informed that TruGreen had already made this change while their Sales Rep and their Applications Technician were both informing me that TruGreen would be applying the same materials that I was applying only in higher values.

I completely understand people that do not want to use chemicals on their lawns and I completely understand a company that wants to market to that sentiment. Our neighborhood has been carved out of the NH woods. We get bear here. You can loose a lawn here in an instant as if you let it, if you try to only treat and kill existing weeds and crabgrass (the TruGreen approach) without retarding germination you will be overwhelmed. I witnessed this for myself and fortunately caught it in time before I lost my lawn....going back to using my own fertilizer in the process.

I officially complained to TruGreen last year telling them exactly why I was unhappy. When I bought this home I had to work like crazy not to loose the lawn because the previous owner had let it go moving into the home sales process and it was nip and tuck. I only saved it through hours of work and I was not interested in trying to recover 15,000 square feet of lawn after TruGreen had screwed it up. I told them that using no germination retardants might work for little 1/4 acre urban lots but that it was not working out here and furthermore, neither I nor my neighbors had been informed that the product had been changed along with the company name.

I have already applied my Spring fertilizer. The TruGreen Sales Rep came out a day after I had done so and informed me that TruGreen had gone back to using products that included chemical germination retardants and that they had streamlined their offerings down to one offering. You take their service for the entire season including 5 fertilizer applications, grub and potassium. It was now all or nothing. He also told me there was a way to opt out of one of the applications but I had to follow a particular process to do it.

Again I commend this particular Sales Rep for being the first honest Sales Rep I can claim to have talked to from TruGreen. However I cannot tolerate companies that change their products and their services willy-nilly AND automatically renew you to boot. On top of that I recognize that without my own observance and intervention, I would have lost this lawn last year.

Now the final irony:

While they appear to anoint themselves as being able to renew you without authorization even while making wholesale changes to products and services, apparently you must call them to cancel the unauthorized renewal.

When you call to cancel you are put on hold and sent off to a Texas based, Account Recovery Dept and while being a reasonable human being, you might do them the courtesy of explaining your desire to cancel, they will not do you the courtesy of simply honoring your request. They will not take no for an answer. They in this case did not agree to cancel until I completely lost it and demanded to speak to the boss. The Account Recovery Rep put me on hold and came back to tell me that the boss was not available. I told him that was fine as long as he simply canceled me. He never agreed and hung up telling me that he was now justified to hang up because I had become unruly on the phone. Frankly if TruGreen had come out here without my prior approval, I would have treated them as trespassers. NH is one of those states that frowns on trespassing and they would not have liked the result.

I eventually got back to the local TruGreen office which had initially sent my call onto Texas the first time. Told them they are not to do that again and that they are to cancel me. They agreed to do that.

Be forewarned. I cannot be the only person that has been automatically renewed regardless of satisfaction with the product or the service or major changes to the product or the service.

Be advised that TruGreen according to the Sales Rep is now back to using materials that use chemical germination retardants. Do depending on where you stand on that issue you might want to know that this is what I have now been told.

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