Warning over bogus traders

LANCASHIRE Trading Standards is warning people thinking of having work done on their house during the summer not to get burnt by bogus traders.

Sunday, 31st July 2011, 12:14 pm

The watchdog is supporting a campaign being run by the Office of Fair Trading to warn residents that warm weather signals boom time for cold callers offering to do house repairs and gardening work.

Over 150 incidents of cold callers targeting vulnerable Lancashire residents have been reported to Lancashire County Council Trading Standards so far this year. In many cases any work carried out has been substandard and overcharged.

The key advice is to be cautious: remember it is your doorstep, your decision, and do not accept building and maintenance repair offers from cold callers.

Lancashire County Council also has a Safe Trader scheme, which lists honest and trustworthy local traders for home improvements, repairs, and domestic services.

County Coun Albert Atkinson, deputy leader of Lancashire County Council, said: “While it is not illegal for handymen to canvas for work in this manner, rogue doorstep trading is an ongoing problem and often combined with pressure sales techniques to convince you to sign up there and then.

“Decisions made on the doorstep very often result in people agreeing to something they don’t want – a reputable trader will give you time to think and won’t expect a quick decision.

“The work can very often be poor quality, much more expensive than quoted, or end up not being done at all – leaving you out of pocket and likely needing to spend even more to set the problem right.”

Bogus doorstep traders often use persuasive and emotional tactics to secure a fast sale and con people out of money. One technique is to make you feel there is a sense of urgency and that if you don’t sign up you will miss out on a good deal or your property will be at risk of damage.

According to advice service Consumer Direct over 5,000 complaints were received last year about uninvited home maintenance traders, with the most common complaints being about roofing, tarmacing and insulation.

l To find an honest trader, call Lancashire County Council’s Safe Trader scheme on 0303 333 1111 or visit www.traderregister.org.uk. For advice on doorstep selling, call Consumer Direct on 08454 040 506 or visit www.direct.gov.uk