With Spring approaching and better weather on its way, St Helens Borough Council’s Trading Standards Service is seeing an increase in doorstep trading especially roof, guttering and chimney work and is urging residents to be on their guard against rogue traders.
Rogue traders may cold-call or post a leaflet through the door, or respond to a job posted on a trader matching website.
Common services offered by rogue traders and cold-callers include general building work, extensions, roofing repairs, garden maintenance and driveway resurfacing.
Prices charged by rogue traders are usually excessive and anyone accepting work from a rogue trader will often end up being charged much more than they agreed. Work is also often very poor quality, can be dangerous and in some cases isn’t even done.
Doorstep criminals in particular also rarely provide paperwork so they can’t be traced once they’ve left people’s homes.
Councillor Kate Groucutt, Cabinet Member for Inclusive Economy, Business and Skills, said:
“Rogue traders are often opportunistic and unscrupulous, targeting the most vulnerable in our communities for profit. We work closely with our community partners to help ensure that our residents including the most vulnerable, remain safe and protected.
“We would therefore strongly urge residents not to buy from unexpected doorstep traders or from people who make telephone cold calls, offering their services.
“Rogue traders can be very convincing, often claiming that residents need repairs carried out to their properties when this is simply not the case.
“They may make bogus claims to try and get you to agree a job including claiming they are working on a neighbour’s property. They may even say they work for the local council.
“If your property needs work, repairs to your roof, more home insulation, a new driveway or gardening, take your time when choosing a trader and follow our top tips.”
St Helens Borough Council’s Trader Register has been set up for the benefit of both local consumers and businesses in the St Helens area. The Trader Register provides consumers with a list of local businesses that have been checked for compliance with the consumer protection rules applicable to their trade. Visit the register online at https://sthelenstraderregister.com/
St Helens Borough Council Trading Standards encourages residents who need further advice or want to report a rogue trader to contact the Citizens Advice Consumer Service helpline on 0808 223 1133 or visit www.citizensadvice.org.uk/consumer.
Top tips for consumer safety:
- Rogue traders often operate door to door but also advertise on the roadside and with the use of flyers. They may even have their own websites.
- Rogue traders offer a range of ‘work’ including gardening, roof tiling, driveway repairs and guttering.
- Rogue traders quote low prices, but costs soon rise and they often find more work ‘that needs doing urgently’.
- Rogue traders like to appear local and genuine, but the addresses they use are often false and their memberships of trade schemes bogus.
- Never employ anyone who cold calls at your home and be wary if they can start immediately, as reputable building trades are typically busy at present.
- If you are interested in having work done on your property, seek quotes from reputable traders with verifiable names and addresses. Try to visit their premises if you can and ask to see examples of their work.
- It’s becoming increasingly popular for people looking for a good trader to seek recommendations on social media. Using a recommended trader is a good idea, but make sure you still do your own checks.
- Don’t rely upon verbal agreements, make sure everything you want done and how much it will cost is in a written contract before your trader starts work. Always agree the price, payment arrangements and start/finish dates in writing before any work starts on your home.
- Get the full name and address of the trader and their bank details for payment purposes so that you know who you are entering a contract with. Avoid cash payments and don’t pay in full until you’re completely satisfied with the work.
- If you agree to work and it starts but becomes evident that it is not what you asked for or very poor quality tell the trader to stop immediately and do not part with any cash until you have had a second opinion from another tradesman.
- You have 14 days to cancel any purchase of goods or services over £42 that you make in your home. If someone won’t give you written notice telling you how and to whom you must give your cancellation – they commit a criminal offence.