Consumer Law Blog
High noon for "cowboy" builders and rogue tradersby Elliot 15 October 2009
Despite the best efforts of a small, bald cockney man from TV, "cowboy" builders and dodgy workmen are still rampaging across the country causing damage to properties and untold misery for thousands of people along the way.
Every week there are countless stories in the news about rogue traders thieving innocent people by falsely claiming that urgent building work needs doing on their homes. They demand cash up front to fix the "problem" before either botching the job or scarpering without having done any work.
The best way to combat the threat of bogus builders is to spot them before they even have a chance to rip you off. I have compiled a short but helpful list of tips to help you identify these cowboys and protect your home and potentially the homes of others.
- Since October last year anyone trying to sell you a service (at a cost of more than £35) at your door must provide a written contract which gives you a 7-day cooling-off period to consider the price quoted. More often than not rogue traders cannot and will not supply this contract, if this is the case then send them on their way and report them to Trading Standards.
- Cowboy builders will ask for cash up front. You should NEVER pay anyone for work done on your home until the job is finished.
- There have been reports of rogue tradesmen working in pairs where one will distract you at the door while the other damages your property so that they can later offer to fix it! If they come as a team then don't let any of them out of your sight.
- Cowboy builders will claim that the work needs to be done "urgently". This is almost always a lie. If there is a problem then get quotes from several reputable traders before paying the guy at your door an exorbitant fee.
- If the trader at your door is being chased by a TV camera crew then avoid him like the plague.
Remember if you think you have spotted a cowboy builder, or if you have been a victim of one, contact the police and your local Trading Standards office. What they are doing is a crime and they should be stopped immediately. For more information on how to deal with rogue traders consult our free, comprehensive guide.
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