Two Bournemouth traders who between them attempted to charge an elderly Leamington Spa resident more than £25,000 for unnecessary foam loft insulation, installation of a battery for solar panels and other home maintenance work, have been successfully prosecuted by Warwickshire County Council Trading Standards.
Jack Burton, who trades as Roofwise/Jack Burton Property Services Ltd, visited the home of the elderly resident and convinced her to purchase foam loft insulation, despite her loft being adequately insulated. She also agreed to pay for other work including roof tile and panel cleaning.
She was told the work would cost her £18,500 but no breakdown of the price was given. Despite having been sent a letter by Trading Standards giving him advice about the cancellation rights of consumers just days before, Burton did not give the consumer any information about her right to cancel the contract within 14 days and the work was set to be carried out the next day.
Building society vigilance
The incident came to light after the 86-year-old pensioner visited her local building society to withdraw half the cost, £9,250 and was stopped from doing so by quick-thinking building society staff. They then contacted Warwickshire Trading Standards, which launched an investigation.
Trading Standards Officers supported the consumer, the work was declined and no money was paid. A Harassment Notice was issued, making it a criminal offence for Burton to return to the property.
Three days later another Bournemouth trader, Stuart High, trading as Off Grid Renewables Ltd, also visited the consumer’s home. High attempted to sell her foam loft insulation and a new battery for solar panels fitted to the property.
He attempted to charge £6,900 for the work without giving any explanation of how the price was calculated or what the benefit would be in terms of energy savings. Trading Standards Officers again stepped in and no money was paid.
At Leamington Magistrates Court on January 9, Burton pleaded guilty to two offences under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008. At a sentencing hearing at Nuneaton Magistrates Court on January 22, Burton was fined £1,584 for each offence, with a victim surcharge of £158 and costs of £4,913.90, making a total of £8,239.90.
Burton did not attend court and was not represented; no mitigation was offered.
At an earlier hearing at Nuneaton Magistrates Court on July 10, 2018, High pleaded guilty to two offences under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008. High was fined £618, ordered to pay costs of £2,234.95 and a £60 victim surcharge, a total of £2,910.95.
Warwickshire County Councillor Andy Crump, Portfolio Holder for Community Safety said: “I’m delighted that this case came to light thanks to the vigilance of a local Building Society. Through the Banking Protocol, bank and Building Society staff are helping to identify victims of high- pressure salespeople and alert their local Police and Trading Standards Service.
“I’m pleased that this protocol is working well here in Warwickshire as we seek to protect our elderly and vulnerable residents.”