Northamptonshire County Council Trading Standards and Warwickshire County Council Trading Standards have both warned residents that rogue traders could use the aftermath of Storms Ciara and Dennis as an opportunity to defraud consumers.
Rogue traders often carry out poor-quality work, sometimes taking money for materials and then disappearing without doing any work at all. They may quote low prices, but they will soon demand more money and very often the work they claim needs doing is completely unnecessary.
Homeowners are advised to ignore doorstep cold callers and instead first check with their insurance company whether they are covered for repairs, since some policies include emergency assistance support. Most insurance companies will appoint their own tradespeople to carry out the work.
For those who are not covered by insurance for any repairs, they can find a reliable trader through the trading standards approved trader scheme, Buy With Confidence.
Northamptonshire County Council Cabinet Member for PLACE Cllr Jason Smithers said: “We are encouraging homeowners to be on their guard against less reputable traders who may take advantage of any damage caused by these storms and try to convince homeowners to pay for unnecessary or over-priced repair work.”
Warwickshire County Cllr Andy Crump, Portfolio Holder for Community Safety said: “It can be tempting to employ the first person who comes to your door offering to fix that broken fence or loose roof tile. However, it can be hard to tell a good trader from a rogue on the doorstep, so trading standards are advising residents not to buy at the door and instead seek a range of quotes from reputable traders.”
Top tips to avoid rogue traders:
- Don’t buy from unexpected doorstep callers
- Go on recommendation and use traders that family or friends have been happy with. If that’s not possible, consider using a trading standards-vetted and approved trader.
- If your home has experienced structural damage you need a qualified surveyor to tell you what the actual damage is; never rely on the word of a builder alone
- Ensure the business has a genuine address – find out how long they have been there for. If you find lots of businesses at the same address, that can be a warning sign
- Ask to see examples of their work and verify it with the householder
- Get everything written down – don’t rely on spoken agreements
- Be wary of any trader who can start work quickly or straight away. You can expect to wait several months for a good builder to start work
- Don’t buy from the first trader who comes to your door or be rushed in to making a quick decision – seek quotes from reputable traders