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Summer warning over rogue traders and cowboy builders

Posted on Thursday 24th August 2023
Rogue Traders Building Site NR

Rogue Traders Building Site

Staffordshire County Council’s Trading Standards service has issued a warning about the growing menace of rogue traders and cowboy builders, having dealt with 140 reports since the start of the year.

The warning follows recent reports of traders operating in the Cannock, Newcastle and Stafford areas over the summer months, offering building and gardening work.  Usually, these rogue traders will knock on people’s doors and offer to do work on the spot. The work is either poor quality or overpriced and sometimes never done, despite people paying more than the cost of a reputable trader.  

Rogue traders are individuals or companies that engage in deceptive practices, provide substandard services, and often fail to deliver on promises made to customers. They tend to target vulnerable individuals, the elderly, and those who may be less familiar with the home improvement process, leaving them financially exploited and often with unsafe and unsatisfactory work completed.

Victoria Wilson is responsible for Trading Standards at Staffordshire County Council and expressed her concerns about the increasing number of reported cases involving rogue traders.

Victoria said:

"We are seeing a rise in complaints related to unscrupulous traders preying on innocent homeowners and are working closely with the police to stop it.

“These rogue operators often call uninvited and pressure residents into agreeing to go ahead with work at short notice. The work they provide is often grossly overpriced and very poor quality. They often use pressure tactics to extract additional payments from their victims and often target older people.

“It’s really important to remain vigilant and take precautions when hiring tradespeople for home projects.  By following some simple steps, such as not signing up with a stranger who knocks on your door, getting three quotes, checking reviews, and avoiding payments up front for a job in cash, will help keep you safe.”

Officers have offered the following tips to people thinking about having work carried out:

  • Do your research: Always research the background and reputation of the trader or builder before engaging their services. Check for reviews, testimonials, and online presence to gage their credibility.
  • Get multiple quotes: always get quotes from at least three different traders to make a fair comparison of pricing and scope of work.
  • Ask for references: Request references from previous clients and follow up on them to gather honest feedback about the quality of their work and professionalism.
  • Ask for written agreements: Insist on a written contract outlining the terms, costs, and timeframe for the project to ensure clarity and accountability.
  • Avoid cash payments: Don’t make cash payments upfront and use a secure payment method that allows for traceability and recourse in case of any disputes.
  • Trust your instincts: If something feels too good to be true or if a trader exerts undue pressure on you to make hasty decisions, step back and reassess the situation.

People can report rogue traders to Trading Standards on 01785 330356.  People should leave details of the incident and their contact details, and an officer will be in touch.

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