Householders beware: a warning from the Office of Fair Trading
The Isle of Man Office of Fair Trading has issued a warning to householders not to use tarmac jobbers who make unsolicited visits to their homes without checking them out first. Despite numerous warnings issued by the OFT, consumers are still falling victim. The OFT is aware of tarmac jobbers who are currently operating on this basis in the Island.
Consumers approached by these traders are often persuaded to accept their offer because they initially appear to be cheaper than local traders and they can begin straightaway. Good local traders may be very busy and you may have to wait but this is a much better option. Even if problems do occur with the job the local traders are still here to sort things out.
Many rogue traders who cold-call not only carry out poor quality work but also use sub-standard materials. Any “guarantees” provided are likely to be worthless. They will often pester householders into having unnecessary work done and have even been known to take their victims to the bank to secure payment. The likelihood of them returning to put work right is minimal unless they think that they can con more money out of their victims. It is often the elderly or the vulnerable who are targeted.
Chief Inspector of Trading Standards, John Peet offers these tips to avoid being the victim of a rogue trader:-
- Be very wary of traders who call at your house without an appointment offering to do work
- Take time to make sure that the business name is properly registered - you can check registration at http://www.gov.im/ded/pvi/pvi_fr.html or by contacting the Companies Registry on 689389 or email@example.com
- If the trader appears to be from across, contact Work Permits on 682393 or firstname.lastname@example.org to make sure that the requisite permits have been issued
- Do NOT be pressurised into having unnecessary work done
- If the trader is pestering you, call the police or Trading Standards on 686520 for advice
- Ask for time to think about it before you decide to go ahead with any work – many householders change their minds on reflection when the trader has gone away
- Do NOT fall for patter such as “We’ve got some tarmac left over from a big job”
- Take the time to obtain at least two further quotes – be wary if the quote from the cold-caller is significantly cheaper than the others
- Do NOT part with a significant amount of cash up front
- Seek the advice of friends, neighbours and relatives before you agree to the work being undertaken
- Ask for a written breakdown of the work to be carried out – don’t settle for vague written statements, e.g. “tarmac drive”
If a householder is concerned that they may have fallen foul of a rogue trader they should contact the Office’s Trading Standards staff on 686520.
In addition to causing householders problems, rogue traders often avoid making any contribution to the Island’s economy by:-
- operating on a cash only basis
- not paying for employer’s liability insurance
- not declaring their earnings for income tax purposes
- not paying VAT even though they may earn many thousands on each job
- taking work from legitimate traders who do pay their dues