With the spring and summer months an ideal time of year for home improvement works, St Helens Council’s Trading Standards Team has released some top-tips to home owners to prevent them falling victim to rogue traders.
Lighter evenings often result in some rogue traders chancing their luck to find work by door knocking, whether it’s by offering a tree maintenance service; gutter cleaning; or building work. While this approach is not always technically illegal – some rogue traders have been known to pose as council workers in order to trick victims into a false sense of security.
Over the past few months, the council has been made aware of a number of incidents concerning bogus and doorstep traders, with one Sutton resident being led to believe she was receiving building and tree maintenance work at her home from the council in exchange for cash.
While the council does provide all aspects of tree surgery work for a competitive fee, payment is always taken through a formal invoice system after the work has been completed, and money will never be requested.
Darrell Wilson, Chief Trading Standards Officer at St Helens Council, said: “Traders who just turn up at a property to seek work can be very persuasive but it’s important not to jump to any decisions which could leave you out of pocket – and to always look to seek credentials were possible.
“In a lot of cases we deal with, the victims – often elderly and vulnerable people who are unable to do the work themselves – have parted with a lot of cash for either a poor standard of work, or on many occasions have paid up front for work that is only partially completed or never even started.
“I would appeal to family members and neighbours to keep an eye on elderly loved ones or members of their community to ensure they aren’t getting roped into work they don’t necessarily want for an extortionate amount of money.”
Trading Standard’s fab four -tips to ensure you don’t get ripped off by rogues:
– Never agree to have work undertaken there and then by people who just happen to knock on your door
– Get at least three quotations from traders before making a decision
– Consider recommendations from family and friends
– Visit the council’s online trade register where you can find reputable local tradesmen and businesses
If you think you have been misled or have paid over the odds for work you have had done, contact the Citizens Advice Consumer Help Line by telephoning 03454 040506 or visit citizensadvice.org.uk
If you suspect a rogue trader is operating in your area, please contact Trading Standards with as information as possible, including car registration numbers and physical descriptions, by calling 01744 676338, or via firstname.lastname@example.org