15 Apr 2024

Trading Standards issues spring warning over rogue traders and cowboy builders


Staffordshire County Council’s Trading Standards service has issued a warning to residents about the growing menace of rogue traders operating in the county.

The warning hopes to protect consumers from unscrupulous individuals and ensure the highest standards of workmanship and service within the home improvement industries. 

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 often target vulnerable individuals, the elderly, and those who may be less familiar with the home improvement process.

Rogue services on offer tend to include gardening and landscaping services, roofing work, energy saving products, and home improvements.

Officers have recently had increased reports of scams relating to the installation of home energy improvements, including the use of spray foam to insulate loft spaces.

Residents are advised to proceed with caution before agreeing to work of this type, as it can cause issues with ventilation and can affect the value of the property.

Victoria Wilson (pictured) 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 offer services at enticingly low prices but end up delivering very poor work, using cheap materials, and employing pressure tactics to extract additional payments from their victims. They often target older people.

“It’s really important to be vigilant and careful when hiring tradespeople for their home projects.  By following some simple steps, they can keep themselves and their loved ones safe.”

Newcastle LPT commander, chief inspector John Owen, said: “Keeping communities safe is our priority and this includes protecting people from rogue traders and doorstep crime, including distraction burglaries.

“Asking to see identification, listening to any doubts in your mind and not letting anybody into your property that you are unsure of are all ways to stay safe from this type of crime, which is often instigated by a cold call at your front door.

“Professionally qualified traders should always agree a price with the customer before starting any work and should be in a position to verify their employment. If you are concerned that someone may be a fraudster, ask them to ensure a price is agreed beforehand and do not invite them into your home.”

Trading Standards officers have offered the following tips to people thinking about having work carried out:

  • Never sign on the spot: Always research the background and reputation of the trader or builder before engaging their services and get a minimum of 3 quotes to compare prices.
  • 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.

Families worried about cold callers to their elderly relatives are being encouraged to get a ‘No Cold Callers’ notice for their door.  These are available free from Trading Standards.

People can report rogue traders or cowboy builders to Trading Standards on their helpline on 01785330356. Further advice on legal rights is also available from Citizens Advice on 08082231133.

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