Advice from Trading Standards
In the last 5 years it is estimated that £1 million has been paid to rogue traders by older residents living in Cambridgeshire. In most cases the rogue trader will have called at the customer’s door offering to do work on their house or garden, and will have overcharged for unnecessary and shoddy work.
These are serious crimes, in some cases costing the customer their life savings and often leading to them being fearful in their own homes.
At Trading Standards we would like to make you aware of the telltale signs of rogue traders to help you avoid them. We would also urge you to pass this advice on to elderly friends and relatives.
Rogue traders typically:
1. Call at the door offering services such as replacing a loose roof tile, roof or gutter cleaning, gardening, house maintenance, jet washing, driveway paving and tree felling.
2. Engage with the customer to win their trust e.g. claiming to have been before, claiming they are working up the street etc. They will seem very friendly and chatty.
3. Start with a small job such as gutter cleaning and then claim further work is needed. This subsequent work will not be quoted for and will run into thousands of pounds.
4. Make fraudulent claims e.g. moss growth on a roof causes severe damage and needs to be washed off, painting a roof is necessary to protect it.
5. Fail to give you written notice of your right to cancel which is required for most contracts agreed at home.
6. Use intimidation to extort money and often take the customer to a bank or cash point to withdraw cash (a criminal offence).
7. Return again and again demanding further payment for bogus reasons e.g. claiming that VAT has not been paid.
If you think rogue traders are currently at your property, are in the vicinity or are due to return, please contact the police on 999. If you think rogue traders have done some work for you but have left, contact our advice partner, Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline, on 08454 040506 for advice.
In terms of finding a trader you can trust, seek recommendations from friends and family where possible. Alternatively, use a trader on our Buy with Confidence approved trader scheme who will have been thoroughly checked by us. To find an approved trader visit www.buywithconfidence.org.uk, call the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline (above) or visit your local library, where staff will be able to look up traders on the scheme for you. We would always recommend getting three quotes to ensure the price is competitive.