Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Nice response, Ashplundh.

So, after the "Defoliantgate" episode described yesterday, I sent off an e-mail to the offending company, documenting the damage and asking that somone contact me ASAP to discuss their actions and remediation. I was nice and polite, and I didn't even mention the fact that they sure have a lot of nice equipment parked around the area or point out what a shame it would be if something happened to any of it. I guess that, like a fine Bourbon I'm mellowing with age.

I expected an e-mail back, but what I got was Murphy and Belle going crazy first thing in the morning, just a couple of hours after I'd arrived home and gone to bed, fresh off my current night-shift assignment. Knowing the dogs, I understood that this was no cat or deer outside, so I went to the library window and saw not one but two pick-up trucks in my driveway and four hard-hatted tree guys standing there.

Damn. They came and brought friends.

Well I have friends, too. I told the guys on the driveway that I'd be right down, and then I loosed the Dogs of War Low-Intensity Conflict onto the deck to bark at them and let them know that I also had minions. Then I rustled up a shirt and a shoe, and headed down to the driveway to meet them.

I was met by Dale, rep. for the actual arborist that does the selecting for Ashplundh's cull list, and Denny, of Ashplundh. The other two just hung in the background, but I knew why they were there so it wasn't a big deal; my own canine "muscle" was in plain view behind me too. Checkmate.

I give them credit for a fast response. I e-mailed their corporate office in another state last night after close of business, and in just hours, they'd communicated my complaint down to the local supervisor and he was here with a scanned copy of the door-hanger that I'd signed a couple of months ago.And damned if it didn't have a small checked box on one side stating that they might use herbicide on select plants. I told them that even with that, I wasn't pleased at all with the total devastation that they'd wrought on the front of my entire property. I mean, damn...It looks like Sherman stopped here for lunch on his march to the sea.
How I pictured Asplundh's spraying (above), and how I saw my front yard (below).
According to Dale though, they did spray selectively, only targeting certain types of shrubs and trees known to grow high enough to interfere with the power lines. He gave me a list of those plants, and as it happens, most of my front lot IS that type of shrubbery. Most was still growing wild and pretty much untended since I moved in here, but I was definitely partial to my black cherry trees. Alas, black cherry are near the top od that list, right there with locust trees, as fast-growing trees that affect power lines. And my two, while still short, were right under the lines.

We talked for quite a while, and to his credit, Dale really knows his stuff, re: trees and soil and herbicides and the like, and it really is a pleasure to talk to someone that knowledgable even in an adversarial context. At the end of our discussion, I came away with a clearer understanding of what they did, why they did it and how, and I also got a pledge from them that even though they normally left the property to the property owner to deal with, in this case, a clean-up crew would come by and cut, shred and otherwise remove the dead stuff that was making my yard look even worse that it had the week before. He also gave me a pretty lengthy list of new tree types that I could put in that space that would not cause a problem like this down the road. And since I'd been planning to re-landscape that whole section anyway and remove pretty much everything that they'd killed except for the cherry trees, I'm more than good to call it even provided that they clean the area up as promised. Basically I'm trading my two semi-wild cherry trees for a couple hundred yards of landscape clean-up and the removal of a fair bit of wild shrubbery that I would have had to take out anyway, so I'm good. And frankly, I'm impressed that they responded so fast and so professionally. I mean, damn--I didn't even have to go out and shop for a horse's head to make them understand just how serious that I was. A follow-up letter will be sent to their company to let them know.

And as for Murph and Belle...great job from my two guardians, who stood faithful overwatch the whole time and made just enough fuss about the strangers talking to the boss that no one could forget that they were there and actively interested.


  1. Anonymous8:44 PM

    Good dogs!
    I'm impressed. (though not with tiny, easily overlooked boxes) I guess they really are trying to do better. Though I still find the broad application herbicide spray dubious, because while it can be limited to only trees and shrubs, it cannot be limited to only ones that grow over a certain height. The potential for spaying the 'approved' plants ten years down the road is a bit high.
    I do have sympathy for the industry though, they are in an impossible position. If they cut the trees someone complains, if the power goes out because they didn't cut the trees...someone complains. Often the same person.

  2. Dale is who stopped by my house because I was away when they put out the door thingies. He looked a little surprised at my enthusiasm over them cutting some of the trees down - but I've been worried about their proximity to the power line for a while now.

  3. Anonymous10:06 AM

    At least some good came from the situation

  4. "the Dogs of War Low-Intensity Conflict "
    Glad (it appears) you are getting some satisfaction...


  5. Nice to hear they resolved it so quickly.

  6. Tolja! Belle knew when the time was right to use the latest tunnel! And she kept Murphy in strategic reserve. Quite an Army you got on your side there.

  7. It's nice to know that there can still be an all's-well-that-ends-well scenario. And good on the dogs!

  8. Fine print got you again eh? Well, I guess that is an all that ends well...

    1. If nothing else, I'm getting a lot of my yard cleaned up for free, so I guess it's well enough.