BEWARE THE TONGANS Crimes & Incidents, posted by James, a resident of the Pleasanton Meadows neighborhood, on Nov 25, 2008 at 3:53 pm
You might have noticed a lot of landscaping renovations around town the last few months being done by crews of Tongans. The deal sounded too good to be true, which should have sounded the first warning tocsin in my head. I was reluctant but based on the size of the crew and the promise to have the work completed in one week, I agreed.
Three and a half months later the work isn't half done, and what work was completed is pure crap and needs to be re-done. When the project started the Tongans were there almost daily, then only every few days, then only once a week. The project dragged out with most of the work only half done or not even started.
I had originally agreed to make three equal payments; a down payment, another when the project was 50% done, and the third at the end. Not far into the work i got a sob story from the crew chief and head of the family that he needed the next payment early in order to get the materials to finish the job. I foolishly went against my own better judgement and paid him.
We were over two months into the job when he came to tell me he had no money left and would not be able to finish the job. my yard and walkways were a complete shambles. a day later his "cousin" showed up to fix the other guys mistakes. and it would only cost me another bundle to have him finish the rest of it.
the first guy low-balled the estimate, dragged out the work until you were completely frustrated and angry, then bows out for lack of money. in steps the good tongan ready to deliver you from the bad tongan, and it will only cost you nearly what you already paid to have the work done in the first place.
after dealing with the first tongan all those weeks, the lies, the broken promises and all the bad work, no way I was going to pay another one to do the same thing over again. I declined his kind offer and instead I hired a true professional landscaper to come in and finish the job.
i never got any paperwork from the tongans (which should have been another red light) in spite of many requests for it and their many broken promises to bring it "next day". so i don't really have any evidence to lay before a judge. but its definitely a scam folks, fraud plain and simple.
Don't repeat my mistake- DON'T HIRE THE TONGANS!!!!!
Posted by Hopefully Smarter and Wiser now, a resident of the Del Prado neighborhood, on Nov 25, 2008 at 7:40 pm
It is amazing that this group of people are still preying on the residents of Pleasanton. I guess we all live and learn. It is just amazing to me how many people have been duped by these people including me. Our work was done over a year ago and we are still having all kinds of problems. The sob story they tell to get you to give them more money ahead of what you agreed to feed their family, pay their help or purchase supplies etc is amazing that they are still getting away with it. It is clearly something that the local authorities should look into.
Posted by frank, a resident of the Pleasanton Heights neighborhood, on Nov 25, 2008 at 8:35 pm
I think the poster is on to something here. The problem originates with the Tongans. Ever since Captain Cook arrived on the islands of Tonga in 1773 at the time of an annual festival, the island chiefs have been quite angry for the disturbance. At the time they wanted to kill him, but lacked developing a good plan to do so. Ever since then, Tongans have been getting even by scamming Americans in landscaping businesses. They wrongly confuse us with the British.
Posted by Doo Doo, a resident of the Valley Trails neighborhood, on Nov 26, 2008 at 7:29 am
Ptown, there is nothing absurd about this post. The person already said they recieved no paperwork to reference. If they supplied the name of the company...I'm sure the company name would be changed by the time they knocked on the next door. He gave a description that he thought would stick in your memory. If a landscaper came to your door, you might forget the company name, but you'll surely remember if a group of Tongans knock on your door wanting to do your yardwork. Thank you to James for starting this thread, as neighbors, we should try to help one another when this type of thing happenens.... That is what this site is really for...
Posted by frank, a resident of the Pleasanton Heights neighborhood, on Nov 26, 2008 at 10:22 am
I absolutely agree. Rather than check out anything about their business or references, one should immediately ask the landscapers if they are from the Tongan Islands. Of course, don't ask if you are really good at spotting a Tongan. If they instead answer that they and/or their ancestors originate from American or Western Samoa, the Cook Islands, Tahiti, the Marquesa Islands, Austral Islands, Niue Island, Tokelau, Tuvalu, Wallis, Futuna, Pitcairn, New Guinea, Bismarck, Louisiade, Admiralty, Bougainville, Solomon, Santa cruz, New Caledonia, Loyalty, Vanuatu, Fiji, Norfolk, Kiribati, Guam, Nauru, the Northern Marianas, or Marshall Islands, then they are likely to be OK. You can hire them and likely will not get burned.
Posted by Low Bidder, a member of the Amador Valley High School community, on Nov 26, 2008 at 10:58 am
This points out a fundamental flaw when most people go to "bid" over work of any kind to be done. They in general want the highest quality for the lowest price. I have friends that are contractors that try to do an honest job of bidding, but get burned because they are never the lowest price. Many think they are considering apples to apples but in fact are not. ALWAYS insist on referrals, and visit and make phone calls to verify whever possible.
I've actually had a hardwood floor guy show up at my house and introduce himself as the one who had done my floors (new construction), and asked if he could take some pictures of my floors for a brochure. I asked his company then called my contractor only to find out that another company had done the work and this was someone simply trying to take credit for another contractors work. As always the message needs to be buyer beware!
Posted by Doo Doo, a resident of the Valley Trails neighborhood, on Nov 26, 2008 at 11:08 am
Thanks for being a nuisance Frank. I can see that you can google the islands now. Good Job! Or did someone help you with that? Now... so instead of thanking a person that "got burned" and is still trying to help his fellow neighbors not to make the same mistake, you want to cut and paste all of the pacific islands.... but how does that help anyone else? The guy that started this thread already admitted that he made mistakes and should have handled it different, but you just want to knit pick his description.... instead of the intent of his thread. Next time... why don't you just thank you, and keep all of your sarcastic comments to yourself...thanks Frank
Posted by Stacey, a resident of the Amberwood/Wood Meadows neighborhood, on Nov 26, 2008 at 11:23 am
This thread is hilarious! People who weren't born yesterday don't need to thank James for the warning. I know that appears unsympathetic. I used to have a great neighbor next door who was born in an earlier generation and I'm sure he would've had some excellent choice words on this matter. The quote "a sucker is born every minute" is equally applicable now as it was when first coined, but somehow it seems there's more suckers today. The lesson here is to potential suckers. Always get stuff in writing before ever paying a single cent, check references, business licenses, etc.
Posted by Artemis, a member of the Amador Valley High School community, on Nov 28, 2008 at 12:07 am
It's amazing to me how one person's desire to alert his neighbors about a bunch of scammers turns into such absurdity. Where are some of you reading this forum from, a mental institution?
Even intelligent people can be "suckers". Good for you if you always use common sense 100% of the time and never make mistakes. James, I applaud you for coming forward and putting yourself out there for potential ridicule in order to spare someone else your misery. I bet my neighbors wish that someone else had done this earlier because I'm pretty sure they were scammed by the same people. And no, they aren't idiots, they are good people though - just like you.
I am a bit uncomfortable with the whole "don't hire the Tongans" as there may indeed be people of Tongan decent out there performing honest work. But, you have provided a description of a group who definitely scammed you and how else could you describe them without referring to their race - particularly if you have no business name to offer. Police offer race as part of the description all the time when a crime has been committed. So I would say, don't discriminate against someone just because they are Tongan, but knowing that there have been dishonest Tongan people in town offering landscaping services then exercise extra care. Yes, you should *always* use common sense and require license numbers, contracts, and appropriate payment options - but thanks to James it isn't likely that common sense will fail you if a group fitting his description knocks on your door!
Here's an interesting article that offers a psychological reason for why people fall for scams:
Posted by resident, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Nov 28, 2008 at 2:10 pm
If the people in P-town were concerned with anything other than how cheap they can get something this scam would just go away. You get what you pay for. Next time look at something other than the cost first, like maybe references. Same thing happened when Aloha and ATA went belly up. Everyone knew the tickets were too cheap to be for real for long. But they bought em at cheaptickets.com (not kidding, it's a real site) then demanded that the other airlines honor them. I say the real airlines should have just left them all in Hawaii til they paid real money for their tickets. Of course, the Hawaiians were probably glad to see those cheap tourists go home. So being cost conscious to the exclusion of everything else is always gonna get people into trouble.
Posted by Artemis, a member of the Amador Valley High School community, on Nov 28, 2008 at 10:46 pm
OMG! You people are over the top. Taking the time to research the info for the Consulate of Tonga and sending an email link means you need a hobby!
James, there was no fault in describing the people who scammed you as being a group of Tongans. As I wrote earlier, the police definitely use race as a descriptor when a crime has been committed. You did err in writing "don't hire the Tongans" and "beware the Tongans" because in this attention deficient group, your point was completely lost and instead people are rallying to the aid of the poor Tongan people.
I'd have written something to the effect of: "don't hire this group of people" and/or "beware of landscape con artists".
Posted by a licensed contractor, a resident of the Vineyard Avenue neighborhood, on Nov 29, 2008 at 12:17 am
Let this be a lesson to everyone, before you hire a landscaper, painter, contractor or whomever, check with the CSLB online to make sure their license is valid and the person you are dealing with is the actual license holder. Get everything in writing, if they aren't willing to type up a contract with you find somebody else who is and take the time to learn your rights.
James, you can take them to small claims, you had a verbal agreement with them, it can hold up in court. If they were licensed, they should have also been bonded and you can file a claim against their bond, don't give up.
Posted by PJ, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Nov 29, 2008 at 12:24 am
OMG! You call a simple search and a couple of clicks on Google and cut and paste research? Now that's attention deficit my friend.
I agree with using a description of those individuals that he had an issue with but James made a huge leap by demonizing a whole people, not just offering a description. In the end, you do make the same point though that stereotyping is wrong. So I guess, although we see things from a different perspective, as to the big picture we completely agree.
Posted by Artemis, a member of the Amador Valley High School community, on Nov 29, 2008 at 8:39 pm
I really think some people use these boards simply to stir up crap because they are attention sucks with nothing better to do with their life. Their own family and friends (if they have any) have learned to ignore them and so they come here.
Posted by Artemis, a member of the Amador Valley High School community, on Nov 29, 2008 at 9:46 pm
Well, since you figured I was talking about you, at least you are self aware. I'll give you that.
As for taking the "high road"... you consider comments like the one you made on the "Local Marine back from Iraq to festive homecoming" topic the "high road"? No, that's "stirring up crap". Let ME be the example: I'll stop paying attention to you now and if others do the same perhaps you'll quit making idiotic & inflammatory comments in the hope of getting attention.