TRADING Standards bosses have opened an investigation after a pensioner claimed he was conned out of almost £2,000 and left with a garden full of chopped down trees.

Leaflets advertising 1st Call Tree Management have been distributed across south Essex and are already the subject of an Essex Trading Standards probe.

The 76-year-old man has sounded a warning, claiming he called the company to chop down a bunch of overgrown shrubbery after a leaflet was posted through his door.

The price was originally going to be £1,700, but was negotiated down to £700.

However, the man’s son, who is also his carer, claims the men arrived at the Pitsea home and kept charging more money.

And when they eventually declined to keep paying, they left the garden without clearing away any of the trees they had chopped down.

He said: “After we agreed the price and they came to start the work, they said there would be some extra tipping fees to get rid of it all. We thought this would come in at about £100 or £200 so we thought it would be fine. Then when the work was done they demanded £1,200.

“We really didn’t want to pay it, but as my dad is old and not of great health - they were very intimidating - we decided to get it and pay just so there was no trouble.

“They brought the machine over to chop up all the debris, and then they claimed there was 1,600kg to pick up and demanded another £3,600.

“We had to say ‘no’, and they just left all the mess of the 20 trees they cut down in the garden. We’re now left with this to clean up ourselves; my dad has limited mobility and I’m not of great health, it’s just ridiculous.”

The leaflet the man received at his home in Delhi Road is the same one being investigated by Essex Trading Standards since June.

An Essex Trading Standards spokesperson said: “Whilst there are several similarly named businesses operating in this sector, this is the first notification/complaint received about this business and we are currently looking into this.

“This is a sector that we have real concerns about and we frequently receive complaints concerning targeting of elderly and vulnerable people, carrying out unnecessary work, overcharging and escalation of pricing and an inability to contact or verify address details.”

The Echo made several attempts to contact the firm using the phone number provided on the leaflet over a number of days and left messages detailing the nature of the man’s complaints and how the claims would be published.

But no response was received by the time the Echo went to press last night.