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How HomeStars for Arborists Puts you At Risk

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Arboriculture Industry » How HomeStars for Arborists Puts you At Risk

How HomeStars for Arborists Puts you At Risk

We had a real eye-opener recently that made us appreciate why picking the right tree service is so crucial. A homeowner reached out to us through our website for a quote. Our awesome Officer Manager Kimeka gave her a call to schedule the appointment, and instead of the usual warm reception, the homeowner was suddenly very skeptical and concerned.

“Why are you calling?” she demanded. “How did you get my number?”

It turned out, she thought we were from HomeStars. We explained it was from her request on our website.

“I’m sick of all these calls. I don’t want anyone else on my property,” she snapped. We assured her this was the first contact we had, and only because she contacted us! It was very stressful being yelled at without understanding why. Eventually we came to understand what had gone so wrong for her.


Usually, when we get a request for a free quote, we reach out by phone or email and book an appointment. So, why was this person so upset with us? Turns out she had also put in a request on HomeStars for the same work, hoping to get several quotes and the best price. But she got way more than she bargained for.

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The HomeStars Quote Experience

Instead of having a few professionals reach out to arrange a free quote, our client received a ton of unscheduled visits. Most of them didn’t bother trying to knock, call or reach her – they just showed up, sent a quote and left.

Nine to ten different people showed up randomly at her property, some knocking on her door and others just wandering into her backyard. Her kids were home, but she was at work, and they kept calling her to report strangers repeatedly showing up.

Who are these people trespassing?

The situation escalated to the point where she had to call the police and rushed home. Recently in Toronto with the car theft crisis and increasing home break-ins (some in daylight), you can never be too sure. she was deeply distressed.

After the police inquiry and quotes started appearing in her mailbox, she pieced it together—these random contractors were from HomeStars. Had she asked for some quotes? Yes. But she expected to be contacted. She expected it to be 3-5 at most. She didn’t expect they would show up unannounced and let themselves into her property without permission.

When we called her to book an appointment for a free quote, she was understandably anxious. “Who are you and where did you come from?” she demanded.

What is HomeStars?

Companies like HomeStars and are typically referred to as “home service marketplaces” or “online service marketplaces.” These platforms connect homeowners with service professionals for various home improvement and repair needs. Here are a few key features and common terms associated with such companies:

  1. Home Service Marketplaces: These platforms allow users to search for, compare, and hire service providers for home-related tasks, such as plumbing, electrical work, landscaping, and more.
  2. Online Service Marketplaces: A broader term that includes any online platform connecting service providers with customers, not limited to home services.
  3. Service Aggregators: These websites aggregate information about various service providers, including reviews, ratings, and sometimes pricing, to help consumers make informed decisions.
  4. Review and Rating Platforms: Part of their function is to provide user reviews and ratings for service providers, helping to ensure quality and reliability.
  5. On-Demand Service Platforms: They often provide the ability to quickly book services on-demand, catering to immediate needs.

Examples of similar companies include Thumbtack, TaskRabbit, and Porch. These platforms typically offer features like detailed service provider profiles, user reviews, booking and payment systems, and sometimes even background checks on service providers.

Does HomeStars do Toronto Tree Care?

No, HomeStars does not provide tree services themselves. They operate as a middleman or lead generation platform, connecting homeowners with service providers such as contractors, arborists, and other home service professionals.

HomeStars lists various businesses and allows them to promote their services on the platform, often for a fee.

They do not perform any of the actual services; instead, they facilitate the connection between homeowners and service providers. This model means that HomeStars does not take responsibility for the quality, credentials, or reliability of the service providers listed on their site.

Why we don’t use HomeStars – and Never Will

We explained that we don’t use HomeStars. We have a profile there only to prevent others from misusing our name, but we’ve never paid them for leads and never will. Why? Because we don’t want to be lumped in with shady operators and fly-by-night companies.

We pride ourselves on our premium services, impeccable record, and top-notch insurance. We don’t want our reputation to legitimize bad companies and scams.

There are “tree companies” in Toronto listed on HomeStars with zero training, zero insurance, and zero customer service. These are just a few guys with a chainsaw and a pickup truck, doing substandard work and risking huge fines for illegal work. In our industry, this is called “riding dirty,” and we’re not about that life.

What’s the big deal if you can save a few bucks?

So, what’s the problem with joining HomeStars? Imagine going to a party where you don’t want to be seen with certain people. That’s how we feel about being associated with companies that lack insurance, training, and care. They might use chainsaws, but that’s where the similarity ends.

Middlemen that don’t have you covered

HomeStars has tried to recruit us many times, offering “low-cost” plans for lead generation. When we asked about their standards and how they protect homeowners from unscrupulous contractors, they said it wasn’t their business—they’re just a middleman.

But they imply they know better than you, do a better job than Google, and will keep you safe. The reality is they take no responsibility for the work done through their platform. They sell leads to anyone willing to pay, regardless of skill or ability, leaving you to figure it out.

You’re Left Holding the Bag with Scammers

If a tree company you hire from HomeStars causes damage or injury but lacks insurance, guess who’s on the hook? You are. Not HomeStars, not the so-called company.

These scammers exist in all industries, but with HomeStars, it seems like everyone is good to go. They create a quick profile, add some photos and fake credentials, and suddenly they’re in business.

This is bad for homeowners, bad for real local businesses, bad for the community..but great for HomeStars who gets a cut of every lead, and scammers.

Find Reputable Tree Companies with Google

Using HomeStars to find a contractor is a gamble that can put your home and finances at risk. The platform’s lack of verification for licensing, education, credentials, insurance, or experience means you could easily hire unqualified and uninsured contractors.

This increases the likelihood of poor workmanship, safety hazards, and legal liabilities. If an accident occurs or your property is damaged, you might find yourself financially responsible with no recourse.

The false sense of security HomeStars provides can lead you to neglect crucial steps in vetting contractors, ultimately leaving you vulnerable to substandard service and higher costs.

How to Find and Contact Local Businesses Directly

  1. Use Google and Google Reviews: Google offers a more reliable way to find local businesses. Search for tree care services in your area and pay close attention to Google Reviews. These reviews come from verified users and provide a more authentic representation of the contractor’s reliability and quality.
  2. Verify Credentials: Once you’ve identified potential contractors, visit their websites or contact them directly to verify their credentials. Ensure they have the necessary licenses, insurance, and certifications.
  3. Check References: Ask the contractors for references from previous clients and follow up on these to understand their experience and satisfaction levels.
  4. Get Detailed Quotes: Request detailed written estimates from multiple contractors. This helps you compare services, costs, and timelines to make an informed decision.

By using these methods, you can avoid the pitfalls of unverified platforms like HomeStars and find trustworthy, qualified local businesses that meet your needs.

Conclusion: Skip HomeStars

At Vista Tree Management, we do things differently. We ensure every contractor is qualified, insured, and experienced, providing you with the best service and peace of mind. So, skip the uncertainty of HomeStars and go directly to a trusted, reliable local business like ours. You’ll be glad you did.

author avatar
Michael Co-Founder
Michael is a Certified Arborist and founder of the company. He holds a Certificate in Urban Arboriculture (Honours) from Humber College, Certificate in Project Leadership from Cornell, has post-graduate studies in Urban Forestry and Arboriculture from Oregon State College of Foresty and holds a BAH in Ancient History with a minor in Business. In addition to being an ISA Certified Arborist, he is a TCIA Certified Tree Safety Professional, Tree Appraisal Qualified by Arboriculture Canada and holds a Landscape Exterminator license. Michael sat on the Board of Director for the Ontario Commercial Arborist Association in 2022 and 2023. He worked at some of the top arboriculture companies in Southern Ontario before starting Vista Tree Management. Before that, he was an award-winning Executive Director in the nonprofit sector and published marketing consultant. On the rare days off, Michael can be found at home with his family - a loving wife, two daughters and two cats in Central Toronto.
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Great Reviews - Toronto Tree Service

Vista Tree Management provided an excellent service of removing a large tree from a backyard of my property in Toronto. The whole process of quoting, and doing the job was very efficient, clearly explained and provided as promised. Their price for the serviced was very competitive.
My parents used their service to cut a tree down in their backyard. This tree was in such an awkward position where it was interfering with 2 other neighbors. James ensured me that the service would be done in a very professional manner and no damage would be done. Im glad to say he was right and had a group of 6 hard working individuals made the job done safely and efficiently. I would highly recommend this company for anyone needing tree removal.
Everything went smooth, from the initial assessment visit to the email communication to the job getting done! Thank you guys for your professionalism and quality work!!
Vista is an excellent company to deal with. The owners went above and beyond expectations to help deal with a unique situation. The guys who did the work were not only professional but also very polite. I will be using them again to help with other work in the future.
We are very happy with all the work Vista Tree Management accomplished on our property.  James was very professional and gave us excellent advice concerning the trimming of our 12 foot cedar hedges and the pruning of our mature silver maple trees.  The crew was very friendly and hard working, they did a tremendous job on the work required and they did an excellent job with the clean up.  We would highly recommend Vista Tree services to our family and friends.  We will definitely use them again for all of our future projects.
John & Sonja
They just did my front lawn, and boy, did they leave a lasting impression!

They were straightforward with the plan - clear and precise, ensuring that I was well informed of the process and outcome. The execution was meticulous and exceeded my expectations. Moreover, the cleanliness post-service was remarkable, leaving no trace of debris or disruption.

They were on time and was the epitome of friendly and cheerful—felt like I had friends over for a garden party!

Overall, their service was excellent at every stage. The inquiry, consultation, customer support, day-of service, follow-up, and payment process were all seamless.

I had peace of mind and very happy with Vista. I highly recommend them to those in need of reliable and thorough tree management service.
I can’t say enough positive comment about James and Vista Tree. We were “ghosted” by 2 other tree management companies last fall. James came by and provided separate quotes for two very large trees on our property, both of which were a challenge to severely prune. They were a hazard and had to be addressed. The quotes were delivered the next day after assessment. The team was here on two separate days (April 30 and May 7). They were efficient, professional and most importantly safe. Hollis, the arborist who climbed the trees was friendly and communicated everything he was doing to the trees as well as any changes he made once he was up in the tree. The other members of the crew (Syd and Pete, I can’t remember the others) were professional and friendly. They cleaned everything up and were open to any suggestions we had regarding disposal of the wood. I would highly recommend this company. We will be having them back again to do more work, in the fall.
Leaside neighbours take note!! Exceptional and professional service from start to finish. The team at Vista Tree Management responded to an urgent and critical situation. They were efficient, skilled and courteous. They handled the tree removal with precision and left our backyard immaculate. I highly recommend this team for your tree removal needs. They beat the competition by $1000+
James and his team did a great job pruning and trimming our old silver maple. James answered all my questions, provided expert advice and had his team do the work shortly after. The workers were professional, cleaned the space well, and were really efficient. Would definitely recommend Vista Tree management!
James was great! Very professional and you can definitely tell he knows what he’s talking about. They provided a quote in a timely manner booked us in for the tree pruning within a few days afterwards. The job was done quickly, professionally and the crew was friendly and polite. They cleaned up everything once the work was completed. Highly recommend!
Safe, fast, personable team - did a great job with tree trimming and removal! Note: the removal of a tree was not on the original scope and they still made it happen!
By the end of the day, I wouldn’t have even known they were there.
Very Happy with the professional advice and service we received from Vista which was promptly done. The follow-up to ensure we were happy with the work was appreciated.
Highly recommend! Michal came by first to take a look at things and provide the estimate. He’s obviously passionate about what he does and I learned a ton about my tree that I had no idea about! He gave me the confidence I needed to schedule the work. James and the “J-Crew” arrived on the scheduled day and were super friendly. The team did an amazing job with trimming my large overgrown maple and a fantastic cleanup job. My yard looked better than before they arrived. Will definitely have them back for future maintenance! Thanks Vista!
Great service from a great crew of people! The team was amazing from consulting on best ways to tackle the project, safely removing the trees and making sure the job was done to satisfaction. Would highly recommend and definitely use them again.
These guys are incredibly professional and by far the best arborist that have visited our home. And we've had many!

What impressed me the most was throughout their only concern was safety for my family and our property. With that and that only in mind they made all the cuts and changes that were required. When they left, I felt the most relief I felt about the trees in our backyard in a long time.

Truly appreciate your hard work and will highly recommend you in the future!
After doing a fair bit of research into Toronto-based arborists, we decided to go with Vista, and are very happy we did! From my first meeting with Mike when he came to give us a free quote, I was impressed with his knowledge and professionalism. Mike and his crew were punctual on the day they came to prune the deadwood from our very large Red Oak tree, answered my questions, and worked for 7 hours straight to get the job done. We were impressed from beginning to end, and wouldn’t hesitate to hire them again!
These guys are the best! Very professional, easy to work with and very nice people.
James was amazing in communication and and arranging everything. He is a wonderful person and professional. I had 4 different companies for the quotes and Vista Tree were the best by every criteria I had in mind. After the work was done they cleaned the whole territory even the mess that was here before them. I would definitely recommend them and will call them again when I need any tree work done. Thanks!

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