Loveland woman claims tree business scammed her

LOVELAND — A Loveland woman claims she and her husband were bilked more than a thousand dollars after purchasing 15 ponderosa pines from a local tree planting business.

Holly Hoxie said she found an advertisement on Facebook Marketplace from a business near Colorado Springs called, ‘Tim’s Timbers’. For $100 a piece, the business offered 6’-7’ Ponderosa pines with free delivery and free planting, plus a 1 year warranty.

After reaching out to ‘Tim’s Timbers’, she said owner Tim Stribling arrived the following day and planted all 15 trees.

Over the weekend, however, a strong windstorm blew in and knocked the trees out of the ground. When Hoxie and her husband went to check on them, they discovered the trees had no roots.

"The burlap sacks he had around the trees were just filled with dirt. No roots whatsoever,” Hoxie told the FOX31 Problem Solvers. “Actually, some of the trees were already dead that he had planted”.

Hoxie said she reached out to Stribling to complain about the trees, but had a difficult time getting a hold of him. That is, until she messaged his personal Facebook page.

"Even though there are no roots on the bottom of these trees to grow, he claimed they’re going to continue to grow,” she said.

The Problem Solvers spoke with Stribling over the phone on Tuesday. 

"I have no problem being fully open and honest about my business with you guys, because there’s no discrepancies here,” Stribling said.

Stribling said Hoxie had no issue with the trees when they were initially installed. But Hoxie told us she had no clue the trees had no roots until the windstorm revealed the problem.

According to Stribling, his method of transplanting trees is uncommon.

"Not everybody is familiar with transplanting trees,” he told the Problem Solvers. "I don’t know anybody else who does it here besides me and a few older gentlemen. Who are very, very old guys”.

Despite lacking roots, Stribling said his method, which includes putting a rooting hormone and fertilizer on the tree will make it grow.

"Are you telling me you’re the only person in Colorado who knows about this method that you do?” FOX31 Problem Solver Kevin Torres asked.

"I don’t know. I didn’t do a survey about who knows about this method,” Stribling responded. "All I know is I have a business model that encourages: ‘Hey folks, I can get you a tree cheaper than a nursery can”. 

Stribling said the buyer is required to nurse the trees themselves. He told the Problem Solvers he just does his best to get things started for his customers.

Stribling also said the trees he harvests are wildlings and aren’t like the trees nurseries sell. Hoxie said that information was never disclosed to her or her husband.

"So this burlap bag was just full of dirt,” she said, pointing to one of the tree’s burlap bags. “You can see there’s no root or anything in it whatsoever”.

Hoxie asked Stribling for a full refund and told him he could take the trees back. Stribling refused, but told her there is a one year warranty on all of the trees he sells. If one dies, he said he will replace it.

Stribling told the Problem Solvers the special method he uses to plant trees will indeed make them grow. We asked him if he’d be willing to show us his method.

"If you’re willing to pay for my services, man. I’m not here to prove anything to anybody,” he told us.

According to several arborists who looked at photos of the trees Stribling planted on Hoxie’s property, there’s no way the trees would grow. Don Swartzbaugh, a California arborist, told the Problem Solvers the trees would stay green in the winter because of the moisture and cold, but would eventually die.

Swartzbaugh said It is possible for a tree to be grafted to a root but none of that was there to make it happen.

Stribling asked us to share the full conversation we had with him. You can watch the raw interview in its entirety by clicking here. (Note: in the interview, Stribling claims Hoxie used racial slurs towards him; Hoxie said Stribling is absolutely wrong.)

As for Hoxie, she said she and her husband are out $1,400 after hiring Stribling.

When it comes to hiring a business from Facebook Marketplace, Hoxie urges people to be wary.

Reader’s Digest has 7 helpful tips for anyone using Facebook Marketplace, whether they’re a buyer or a seller.

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