How to spot a rogue trader – and what to do if you think you’ve been scammed
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Nowadays it feels like it’s harder and harder to find a trusted trader.
There are often stories about scams and rogue traders, but finding a council approved tradesman doesn’t have to be difficult.
We’ve teamed up with Buy With Confidence , where you can find Trading Standards approved businesses, to bring you our top tips to find traders you can trust.
What are the marks of a trusted trader?
Rachael Holden, business support team manager at Devon, Somerset and Torbay Trading Standards Service, knows a thing or two about how to find avoid rogue traders.
She said: “Look for a business who purports to be a member of a business approval scheme, and in particular look for a scheme with robust membership acceptance terms and auditing requirements, such as ‘Buy With Confidence’.
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“Get a personal recommendation or check feedback left by previous customers – but tread carefully, some reviews on websites may not be genuine so make sure you check a reputable site.”
Mrs Holden also advises making sure you know exactly what is going to be provided as part of your contract and how much it will cost, before work commences.
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“A trustworthy business will have nothing to hide so you should know who you’re dealing with and what is expected of each of you before any work gets underway,” she added.
Is it harder to find a trusted trader nowadays?
We’ve all heard horror stories of people being conned by rogue builders and rogue traders, but does this mean it’s harder to find a reliable tradesman nowadays?
According to Mrs Holden, it’s not harder to find a trusted trader, but there is a wealth of difference sources of information, and with some of them unreliable, it can lead to confusion.
“A personal recommendation from someone you trust is usually credible,” she said.
“The availability of broader marketing makes it easier for businesses to reach consumers outside of their usual catchment increasing consumer choice, but also removing that ‘local’ knowledge.”
Mrs Holden recommends looking for a business address on a company website, and independent customer feedback, when doing your research to find local tradesmen.
How can you spot a rogue trader?
There are signs to look for to spot rogue traders. Trading Standards advises customers to be very careful before agreeing to a contract with a business who contacts you out of the blue.
This could be anything from turning up at your door to contacting you on the phone or in writing.
Mrs Holden said: “Are they very keen to get you to agree to work, buy something or sign a contract immediately without giving you time to shop around for other quotes?
“Are they offering a special ‘today only’ deal? If it seems too good to be true, it usually is.
“Have they provided you with pre-contract information?
“Contracts which are concluded off their business premises usually afford the consumer 14 days to consider the offer and cancel without penalty before work has started so they should give you a cancellation notice to review and sign.”
What should you do if you’re unsure about a business or service?
“If you’re unsure don’t be pressured into a sale or signing the contract; a good business will be happy to accept your custom another time and will wait for you to do your homework before coming back to them,” said Mrs Holden.
“If they’re at the door and refuse to leave then consider contacting the police.
“If they’re on the telephone hang up; do you really want to deal with someone who’s overly pushy?
“If they claim to be a member of a business approval scheme ask for time to verify that they are who they say they are; a good business will be happy to allow you the time to do this.”
If you think you’ve been a victim of a rogue trader, you can report them to Trading Standards through the Citizens Advice Consumer Service, who will also advise you of your consumer rights.
How can I find council approved tradesmen?
By visiting BuyWithConfidence.gov.uk you can use the online directory to find Trading Standards Approved businesses near you and avoid rogue traders.
In some areas a hard copy directory is also available.
To find out more visit: www.buywithconfidence.gov.uk; email firstname.lastname@example.org; or telephone 01392 383430.