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The Boston Globe

Business

Consumer Alert

Take a firm hand with contractors who won’t listen

Q. A tree service I was using at my summer home was sold. The new company sprayed my trees even though I had decided not to use them. Initially, since it was not a lot of money and I thought they had made a mistake, I paid the bill. They claim a clause in their contract allows them to continue doing work until you specifically tell them to stop. So I called and told them that I did not want their services. Since my telephone calls to them appear to have been ignored, can you get them to stop sending me proposals that they will act upon if I have signed nothing?

- DORIS ROBINSON, WABAN

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A. The contract clause does seem a bit aggressive on the face of it. But at some point, customers of the business actually agreed to the terms — permitting work to continue until the customer officially halts it. The main issue is that these guys seem to have a hard time taking no for an answer.

When a phone call doesn’t cut it, as appears to be the case here, put your demand that they no longer do work at your property in writing and send it via certified mail with a return receipt, said Barbara Anthony, who heads the state’s Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation. Make it clear that they are not welcome on your property and will be considered trespassers if they show up again. Then file a report with the local police explaining that they have been told to stay away, Anthony said.

“You have no right to be on anyone else’s property if they tell you to get off,” she said.

Also, be clear in the letter that you will not pay for any services since you have — per their own contract — specifically told them you don’t want them any longer. It ought to be easier to stop getting services you don’t want. But, hopefully, Anthony’s tips will stop these guys in their tracks. If not, you can call the police.

Mitch Lipka has been helping consumers out of jams for the past two decades. He lives in Worcester and also writes the Consumer Alert blog on Boston.com. Mitch can be reached at ConsumerNews@aol.com. Follow him on Twitter @mitchlipka

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