As many householders get caught by uninvited and rogue traders, often offering to undertake home maintenance work, be cautious and take time to think about people who call at the door.
The OFT is urging consumers, especially the elderly and vulnerable, to guard against rogue traders who knock at their door.
Consumer Direct received more than 13,000 complaints in 2010 about uninvited traders. Nearly half of these complaints related to home maintenance work, with the top five complaints being to do with roofing, tarmacing and paving, insulation, general building work or burglar alarms.
Michele Shambrook Deputy Operations Manager at Consumer Direct said: ‘It is not illegal for handymen to canvas for work, but it is important that people are cautious and do not make hasty decisions. Rogue doorstep trading is an ongoing problem in the UK and work or service carried out can sometimes be unnecessary, of a poor standard, much more expensive than originally quoted or not done at all.
Here’s some advice from the OFT to help you avoid being scammed by rogue doorstep traders:
- If a trader knocks at your door do not agree to on the spot house repairs, or sign anything on the spot.
- Be wary of special offers or warnings that your house is unsafe.
- Do not make snap decisions. Take time to talk to someone you trust before you make a decision.
- If in doubt, call Consumer Direct on 08454 040506 or visit www.direct.gov.uk/consumer.
MoneyHighStreet comments: “We fully support the need for this awareness campaign and hope it can help many avoid being scammed by rogue traders.
One of the team here has personally seen the impact such a trader can have. An elderly neighbour was taken in by the ‘charming young man’ who offered to put some external paint on her house. A job that shouldn’t have taken more than a few hours then stretched into days and became not just painting but clearing gutters and all sorts.
Thankfully the trader was stopped by a nephew who happened to call when the ‘work’ was underway, but not without the elderly lady having to pay excessively for what was a very poor job.
Do be careful – we all need to save money where we can, whilst still of course getting the best possible job done, and we must take steps to try and ensure we are not taken in by these despicable people.