Beware of Rogue Traders During Bad Weather
The Isle of Man Office of Fair Trading is issuing a timely warning to local people to be on their guard against rogue traders who knock at the door offering roofing or other building repairs. Past experience of such traders indicates that the quality of their work, if they can be bothered to actually do any, is of an extremely poor standard.
With the recent heavy downpours and very high winds householders will be concerned about roof damage. Good building firms and specialist roofers are probably very busy and may not be able to respond right away. Waiting for them may be a better option however than using cold callers who can leave your roof in a worse state than when they found it, if indeed there was any damage in the first place.
Householders are advised to ensure that they use traders who have a known track record or are recommended by their insurance companies.
It is a fact that most, if not all, of the genuine traders who carry out remedial work and home improvements do not cold call so always beware of any trader who does so.
Here is the Office’s advice on ensuring that you are not "ripped off" by a rogue trader:
- ask for a written quotation detailing exactly what work will be done and how much it will cost before you allow the trader to start work and before you make any payments – remember quotations cannot be altered by the trader but estimates are just that - a quotation for £500 cannot later be charged at £600 but an estimate of £500 can;
- if the trader has cold called you are entitled to a cooling off period - contact this Office for advice on this before you allow the trader to start work and before you make any payments;
- take steps to find out who you are dealing with before you allow the trader to start work and before you make any payments - obtain details of the company or individuals - ask for an Isle of Man business address and telephone number, preferably for a landline – check with Companies Registry or this Office to see if the company or business name is correctly registered;
- never disclose any financial details such as your bank account number, PIN (Personal Identification Number) or other account or credit card details and avoid cash payments;
- do not make payments in advance, say for materials;
- obtain other quotations or make enquiries of other traders before you make any commitment;
- ask what relevant qualifications or experience the trader has and ask for references from other local customers before you allow the trader to start work and before you make any payments;
- confirm the trader’s membership of any trade body with the organisation itself before you allow the trader to start work and before you make any payments.
Chief Inspector of Trading Standards, John Peet, said: "I am very concerned that cold calling rogue traders will take this opportunity to prey on the vulnerable or the elderly. They will think nothing of misleading householders as to the extent of the work necessary, overcharging for a simple repair or even demanding money for work that they haven't completed. I would urge everyone to help prevent this by watching out for your neighbours and telling friends and family to beware of doorstep traders. Do not be tempted by a promise of a quick fix.”
The Office produces a leaflet “Home Improvements – A guide to having work done on your home” which can be obtained from the Office in Lord Street, Douglas, telephone 686500 or from its website www.gov.im/oft.
If a householder is concerned that they may have fallen foul of these problem traders they should contact the Office’s Trading Standards staff on 686520.