Trading Standards Officers in Blaenau Gwent are warning the public and business community to be on their guard due to complaints being received from local residents alleging they have entered into garden, building and roofing contracts which have been of very poor quality and grossly overpriced.
Trading Standards are aware of an itinerant company carrying out roofing, pathways, driveway and general building work in the area who are not providing their full address details on contract paperwork, therefore making it virtually impossible for customers to exercise their statutory rights once they have paid and the traders have left the area.
Councillor Joanna Wilkins, Blaenau Gwent Council’s Executive Member for the Environment says:
“We strongly advise people not to enter contracts with doorstep callers as should anything go wrong and the workmanship is of poor quality, it can be very difficult to get any redress later. Do not be swayed by any offers that seem too good to be true – they usually are!”
Blaenau Gwent Trading Standards warn that rogue traders:
• Often use pushy salespeople to offer cut price home improvement services such as roofing and guttering repairs. They can be very believable and use scare tactics by stating that the work is urgent. Sometimes they deliberately cause further damage when assessing the work
• Charge a small fortune for poor quality work, unnecessary repairs. They often demand large amounts of cash up front and increase the price as the job progresses. Sometimes they insist on driving people to their bank to pressure them into withdrawing savings.
• Like to give the impression that they are a legitimate company so their trade name will often be displayed on their vans and paperwork, along with telephone contact numbers and e-mail addresses. Very often a geographic address will not be provided but even when it is, it will often be a false address or an address that does exist but does not link to the business. Ultimately, they do not want you to know who they are but will give the impression that full company information is being provided.
What should customers do to protect themselves?
1. Never agree to have work done or part with money on your doorstep.
2. Always get written quotes from at least two traders for any work.
3. Use your family, friends and get recommendations of good tradesmen that carry out quality work and have a business address where they can be contacted if things go wrong.
4. Be very careful using traders that you don’t know anything about even if you source them on the internet and they appear to have a legitimate website with good feedback as this may be false.
5. Always check the business out in as many ways as you can. Check the company name for feedback online and cross reference with as many sites as possible. Also check that the company address provided is legitimate and actually relates to the business. Take the registration number of the trader’s vehicle and ask for proof of the owner’s identity
6. 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. Be aware of your statutory rights under the Consumer Rights Act 2015 that work shall be of satisfactory quality, fit for the purpose and as described.
7. 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.
8. Always agree the price, payment arrangements and start/finish dates in writing before any work starts on your home. Get the full name of the trader and their bank details for payment purposes so that you know who you are entering a contract with. Avoid cash payments.
9. Don’t pay in full until you’re completely satisfied with the work.
10. Keep your home and belongings safe during works.
11. If you think you’ve been cheated, are concerned about a trader or have any doubts call 101 or Consumer Helpline on 0808 223 1133.