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How to deal with a firewood ripoff?

Post in 'The Wood Shed' started by Tom Wallace, Jul 28, 2013.

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  1. NortheastAl

    NortheastAl Minister of Fire

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  2. paul bunion

    paul bunion Minister of Fire

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    Joful likes this.
  3. Paulywalnut

    Paulywalnut Minister of Fire

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    You're out roughly 100.00 from a bad experience. I'm sure you won't do that again. Lesson learned... priceless.
    But, put some signs out and about with free firewood and the creeps phone number.
  4. mustash29

    mustash29 Feeling the Heat

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    Similar thing happened with me in Feb '12. I ordered 2 cord of mixed hardwood chunks cut to 20" for $200. Come to find out a lot of it was not exactly good hardwood, lots of poplar and some ash, it burnt pretty fast.

    Basic mason dump with side boards, just thrown in. The truck allmost fell appart when he was dumping, it was that rusted up.

    I split and stacked it that afternoon and was short, but had paid for 2 cord.

    I called him back:
    - I demand the rest of my 2 cords, you shorted me, deliver the rest at no additional charge or else.
    - CT law states that it should be stacked in such a manner that a squirrel may enter the stack but a cat can't chase it.
    - My neighbor, a landscaper / fence installer, who used to deal in firewood, agreed that it was a crap load.
    - My GF works in the courthouse & knows every judge & lawer in the county, she paid for the wood and she is PISSED.
    - WHAT IS YOUR FIREWOOD DEALER LISCENSE NUMBER and TAX ID NUMBER?
    - 20" +/- 1" means 19 - 21", not 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 12, 14, 28.

    When he arrived with load #2, it was a bit smaller, still cut to irregular lengths, still crap, etc. I wound up with 1.75 of the 2 cord I ordered for the 200 I spent.

    He got REALLY pissed when I told him to take some of that $$$ and go buy a new tape measure and stop by the library and read a tree ID book. ;lol We agreed to never do business each other again.

    First load split:

    [​IMG]

    First load split & stacked on three 40 x 48 plastic pallets. The pallets were 40 deep and 48 wide. Stack was a bit tall. Due to the wood being cut at much less than the requested 20" length, it was still less than 2 cord. When the pile on the right was added to the stacks it barely filled the pallets up squarely.

    [​IMG]
    Joful likes this.
  5. Jacktheknife

    Jacktheknife Minister of Fire

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    I have been following this story but have reserved comment thus far. I know that hindsight isn't helpful to you now, but my advise to anyone else who comes into the same problem is to only pay for what was delivered. In your case 59% of $225 is $132.75. Tell him that he will get the rest of the money when he delivers the rest of the wood. Worst case scenario is he throws a moody and loads his wood back up and you pay nothing.
    Applesister, red oak and Joful like this.
  6. jeff_t

    jeff_t Minister of Fire

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    If you can't haul your own, it's best to at least get a look at what you're buying before it's delivered. If you only see piles of firewood, and no stacks, there is almost no likelihood you're going to get exactly what you order. I'm sure most sellers are going to estimate in their own favor, and many, if not most, customers aren't going to know any different.
  7. Joful

    Joful Minister of Fire

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    My initial thought was the same, but I imagine the exact measure of what's been delivered is typically not realized until some time after the seller is gone.
  8. Jacktheknife

    Jacktheknife Minister of Fire

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    Yep, but he stated that he stacked and then measured it with the guy. That is good practice for a first time delivery.
  9. Tom Wallace

    Tom Wallace Member

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    I'd had cords delivered before to my house before. I have a raised porch, under which I store the firewood. I know that a true cord will just barely fit under that porch when stacked in three rows. This guy's delivery was just short of filling two rows, so I knew it was short of a cord. I was stacking as he was tossing it out of the truck, so I was nearly done stacking when he was done emptying his truck. Plus I know that a standard sized pickup truck with sideboards should be pretty much full if it's got a cord in it. This was no where near full and I told him when he showed up that I didn't think it was a cord based on seeing his truck load.

    I haven't seen him post any more ads for wood and my Craigslist ad warning people not to buy from him is still up. If I see him post more, I'll repost my ad so that hopefully it shows up right next to his in the search results.

    I got a response from the Weights and Measures department in my area. Unfortunately they lack the budget to pursue these kind of complaints as of 2011, and recommended small claims court. I'm not going to bother with that hassle for roughly $100. He'd likely deny my claims and it'd be my word against his and I'd likely lose I think. I think I'll just stick to harassing him with Craigslist ads warning others not to buy from him.

    I did find someone giving away free rounds of douglas fir that I'm picking up tonight. I've got a Fiskars Super Splitter and will rent a Uhaul trailer to take it home tonight. It was only downed a month ago, but the guy claims the tree was standing dead. I'm not sure how dry it is yet, but hey, free wood! Hard to turn that down.
  10. Jacktheknife

    Jacktheknife Minister of Fire

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    You should do an exposé on firewood con-men. Tom Wallace is a name that could work for 20/20 or 60 Minutes.
    NortheastAl and Joful like this.
  11. Tom Wallace

    Tom Wallace Member

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    Haha, I actually have a brother named Mike. Maybe I'll get him to do it.
    brenndatomu, NortheastAl and fox9988 like this.
  12. DuckDog

    DuckDog Burning Hunk

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    I got stung last year. Ordered 2 cord and was over 1/3 of a cord short. Called and let him know there was a mistake. I was very cool about it giving him the opprotunity to make it right and save face. I never heard back. Cash sale........All I can do is never order form him again.
  13. Joful

    Joful Minister of Fire

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    Too much business is done this way. Rather than having a likely customer for many years (possibly decades), he'll short you to save a few bucks on one sale, and probably never hear from you again.

    I have the same trouble with renovation contractors, who base their price more on what they (falsely) assume I can afford, than the actual work to be done.
  14. Bigg_Redd

    Bigg_Redd Minister of Fire

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    Doug Fir = the Taco Time of firewood
  15. MrWhoopee

    MrWhoopee Minister of Fire

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    When I was buying wood, I took a tape measure and calculator out to the truck when it arrived. I calculated the load before any was unloaded and let them know how much I would pay based on the calculations. Some didn't like it, but you can't argue with the math.
  16. Tom Wallace

    Tom Wallace Member

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    I picked up the free wood tonight. Was way more than I thought based on the photos. I was thinking it was about 1/3 of a cord. When I arrived, I could see the rounds were much bigger than they looked in the photo. There's 34 rounds. I measured an average sized one amongst them. It was 17" x 20" x 20". Multiplying that piece times 34, I get 133.8 cubic feet. Just over a cord.

    I brought along my Fiskars Super Splitter, figuring I could get some of the big pieces split down for easier loading. No dice. Those rounds just absorbed my axe like a sponge. I've normally had great luck with that axe, but I guess it's not made for wet, soft wood. The tree was felled in May this year I believe. It was dead already and was hollow near the base. I was hoping that it being dead would result in relatively dry wood. Now I've got to figure out how to split this. Maybe rent a log splitter, or hire some tree service company to do it.

    I just measured the ends with a moisture meter. Ranges from 19-50%. I haven't split one apart yet to get a reading from inside.

    The land owner says it's either douglas fir or hemlock. I've read that hemlock is a really bad wood for firewood. I think douglas fir is so so, and is very common around here. I've eaten Taco Time. It's not bad.
  17. red oak

    red oak Minister of Fire

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    I think renting a splitter would be cheaper. I've had the same experience with soft wood like that, and had to break out the sledge hammer and wedges. Once you get it split and stacked it should be much drier in a few months.
  18. Joful

    Joful Minister of Fire

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    For many years, I split most of my wood by hand. Anything too difficult would get set aside in a separate pile. When that pile would get big enough to justify it, or any time I'd get behind on my hand splitting, I'd rent a hydraulic splitter for the day.

    Cost to rent is typically $50 from any one of a dozen individuals on Craigslist, or $90 from a real rental company. I always went with the rental company, worried how I'd deal with it if I broke some private individual's splitter.
  19. Bigg_Redd

    Bigg_Redd Minister of Fire

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    Hemlock is so so

    Doug Fir is outstanding - don't believe all the east coast hardwood hype you read here. I've never heard of 2+year old Doug Fir not being ready to burn, for example.
  20. Joful

    Joful Minister of Fire

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    Burn what ya got, but I think a lot of the "hype" has more to do with BTU's and burn time, than how quickly it seasons. Comparing to the few trees I see most in our woods:

    Doug Fir: 17.4 MBTU/cord (baseline)

    Shag Hickory: 25.3 MBTU/cord (45% higher than DF)
    White Oak: 24.2 MBTU/cord (39% higher than DF)
    Red Oak: 22.1 MBTU/cord (27% higher than DF)
    White Ash: 21.6 MBTU/cord (24% higher than DF)
    Black Walnut: 20.0 MBTU/cord (15% higher than DF)
  21. Bigg_Redd

    Bigg_Redd Minister of Fire

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    It's a common misconception that our "softwoods" = east coast softwoods. Doug Fir is much better firewood than any other coniferous species, and it doesn't require one to get 2+ years ahead in order to burn decently dry wood.
    fossil likes this.
  22. Tom Wallace

    Tom Wallace Member

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    Where I live, we have mild winters, so I don't think I'll need too much BTU from my wood. A free cord of decent wood will likely heat my house for half the winter or more.

    Here's a pic of my free wood score from last night.

    [​IMG]

    For reference, that is a 6' fence behind it. You can see that some pieces are hollow. Those were towards the base of the tree, and I'm guessing the owner cut it down before it fell down on his house.

    I moved it all by myself using a Uhaul trailer. Fun night. I'm sore now.
  23. red oak

    red oak Minister of Fire

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    Softwoods here in the East can season in a year or less, I've burned white pine that seasoned in 4 months over the summer. Not the best BTUs of course. Many hardwoods will also season in a year, including maple and locust.

    Never burned Douglas Fir. How long does it take to season?
  24. MrWhoopee

    MrWhoopee Minister of Fire

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    Down here, Doug Fir is second only to black oak. I guess it depends on what you compare it to. DF is 23.5 - 26.6 mBTU/cord, black oak (Quercus kelloggii) is 25.8 - 27.4 mBTU/cord.
    http://www.consumerenergycenter.org/home/heating_cooling/firewood.html

    Don't turn your nose up at DF.
  25. Tom Wallace

    Tom Wallace Member

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    Especially not free Douglas fir.
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