The 100-bale Pine Straw Test

Dunwoody police issued a warning about pine straw dealers trying to scam homeowners, one week after the FOX 5 I-Team exposed a similar group operating all over the metro area.

The scam involves offering cut-rate prices for the delivery and distribution of pine straw. But once the crew arrives, they inflate the number of actual bales they claim they put down, sometimes doubling the true number. The result: a homeowner winds up spending far more than what legitimate pine straw dealers would charge.

After we caught Today's Pinestraw in Marietta trying to pull the Pine Straw Scam on us, owner Corey Liptrot told us by phone he immediately dismissed those two workers.

Turns out, Liptrot has his own questions to answer.

During our undercover investigation, we spotted Liptrot driving a pickup truck loaded with pine straw to another house in the same neighborhood.

He charged that homeowner for 100 bales of pine straw, and even had 10-11 bales left over in his truck.

"Do you think you got 100 bales?" Randy asked that homeowner.

"Absolutely not," said Kem Williams.

In fact, Williams looked around his yard and saw a recently-laid orange cable line still visible through what was supposed to be a full layer of new pine straw.

Then we showed him that picture of a truck the owner claimed just delivered 100 bales. Williams told the Better Business Bureau he thinks he got no more than 60.

"I definitely believe that I was ripped off," said Williams.

Liptrot told us by phone he was headed out of state but insisted he delivered 100 bales the day we saw him.

Could you really fit more than 100 bales of pine straw in a Ram 1500 with a 5-foot 7-inch short bed?

We asked the folks at Rick's Farmers Market in Marietta to use a similar size truck and pack the bales as high as they could.

Their final number: 81 bales. And the truck was packed a lot higher than what we saw Today's Pinestraw owner driving that day.

"There's no way they're going to get 100-110 on this size truck," said Jeff Champion of Rick's Farmers Market.

Today's Pinestraw owner Liptrot says he pays his people $1 for each bale delivered and spread. At $4.50 a bale, it's one of the lowest prices in town -- as long as no one tries to double the actual number of bales you really get.

"It sounds like a great deal," said Champion. "I'd let them spread it for me for 4.50 if they'd be honest!"

Liptrot insists he is honest and claims he told two of those workers who misled us not to come back to work.

"I said I'm not saying you guys are ripping me off but I said I kind of feel like I'm getting ripped off here," said homeowner Cindy Burke.

After she noticed spotty coverage around her yard, Cindy Burke told the Better Business Bureau the same guys shorted her on pine straw, too. She's asking the same question as a lot of other homeowners these days.

"Should I have counted?" Burke asked Randy.

"I don't know," Randy said. "Should you have?"

"Should I have? I probably should have," she admitted.

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