Nottingham City Trading Standards and Nottinghamshire police have teamed up to launch the Stop Rogue Trader campaign to prevent residents from becoming victims of doorstep crime.
It is designed to gather intelligence and to take enforcement action against those who specifically target vulnerable consumers.
Officers from trading standards and the police will be conducting regular patrols where they will speak to traders working on residents’ properties. The aim is to establish whether or those working within the city are genuine. Trading standards is encouraging friends, families and carers to report any suspicious traders working at any address they visit.
Common things to look for are poor standards of work, asking for all or most of the money before the job is started, asking to be paid in cash, and an amount of payment to be made against work still being done.
Jane Bailey, trading standards manager for Nottingham, said: “Individuals have been cold-called or received literature and agreed to have work done, only to then find that it was either not carried out or done to a very poor standard. Many people are vastly overcharged for the work undertaken, or do not receive any paperwork or contracts, which should include a 14-day cooling-off period.”
Rogue traders are known to fix one problem but then target the vulnerability of the citizen and create further issues. They can be manipulative and make the consumer feel that if their findings are not corrected it would cause further damage. In many cases the consumer would be unable to see the damage proposed by the trader, or the work carried out.
Pete Shaw, of Peter Shaw Roofing Limited, welcomed the launch of the campaign. He said: “I find I’m having to increasingly rectify previous work which is not safe or unfinished, rather than completing the job from beginning to end. I feel sorry for the consumer who pays twice for work where the costs could be kept to the minimum.”
Peter Stephens, managing director of independent builder’s merchants John A Stephens, added: “In Nottingham we have many reputable traders that people use to carry out high-quality work and repairs. Rogue traders initially deny them the opportunity to secure this labour, leave the customer out of pocket and then put them off having additional work completed on their properties, which further penalises genuine tradespeople.”
Statistics show that since January 2014 across England and Wales, 85 per cent of doorstep crime victims are aged 65 and over, while 59 per cent are 75 and over, and 18 per cent are aged between 80 and 84. Also 62 per cent were living alone when targeted and 48 per cent said they felt the offenders were trustworthy.
A further 1,000 incidents are reported annually to the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) with the average consumer left £4,650 out of pocket.
Rogue traders will often offer to carry out property repairs such as roofing, tarmac work, block paving, fascia and soffit installation and gardening. This may also include furniture, mobility aids, security systems and energy-saving products. It often involves charging extortionate prices for materials or payment plans.
Many traders that consumers come across will be distributing glossy flyers for advertisement, including professional-looking websites and wearing matching uniforms to help convince potential customers. They will say they are part of approved schemes. Always keep copies of leaflets, contracts, contact numbers and invoices if given.
Remember don’t buy or engage with traders at the door, and always get three quotes prior to work being carried out. Visit www.BuyWithConfidence.co.uk for approved Traders.
If you believe you are or have been a victim of rogue traders please call Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 03454 040506 or if life is in danger call Nottinghamshire Police on 999.