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Attorney General Josh Stein Gets Temporary Restraining Order Against Alleged Price Gouger

RALEIGH, NC (September 28, 2018) — Attorney General Josh Stein today filed a lawsuit against Alva Wilson Lewis, doing business as A1 Tree & Storm Relief, A1 Tree and Storm Damage Relief, and Big Al & Sons Tree Service, for allegedly charging a Wilmington homeowner an excessive amount for tree removal during the state of emergency declared for Hurricane Florence. It is also alleged that Lewis’s company, A1 Tree & Storm Relief, falsely claimed to be insured, bonded, and a certified arborist. In his lawsuit, the Attorney General requested that Lewis and his companies be prohibited from conducting any similar business in the state of North Carolina. As a result of today’s lawsuit, Superior Court Judge A. Graham Shirley entered a temporary restraining order against Lewis and his companies.

“Right now, people in Wilmington are struggling to put their lives back together,” said Attorney General Josh Stein. “It is outrageous that some would take advantage of a desperate situation to scam more money. We are asking the court to put a stop to this action – and I hope it will serve as a message to any other would-be price gougers out there. My office will not allow price gouging to go unchecked.” 

A1 Tree & Storm Relief initially estimated a $4,000 cost to remove three trees. The price then jumped to $7,000, and a final invoice charged the customer $12,000. Engaging in this type of bait and switch and price gouging is illegal in North Carolina. Lewis and his companies are based in Lexington, North Carolina, where Big Al & Sons Tree Service was listed as one of the Better Business Bureau’s “Dirty Dozen” companies in 2015.

To date, the North Carolina Department of Justice has received more than 700 complaints about price gouging. Our office is investigating those now and encourages anyone who may have been the victim of gouging to report it at 1-877-5-NO-SCAM or ncdoj.gov/complaint.

A copy of the temporary restraining order can be found here.

A copy of the complaint can be found here.