Guarding Against Rogue Traders
- Published: 17 July 2016 17 July 2016
- Hits: 2623 2623
As consumers it is always a huge worry that we may get ‘ripped off’, ‘duped’ or ‘conned’ especially if we need to engage a less well known or a smaller company. A sole trader, for example, may seem like just the person we need to get the job done – but is it?
As a conscientious business, it is totally alien to us that there are companies in the world that are willing to con people out of their hard earned cash. There are people in our line of business that feel it is acceptable to leave customers in sometimes appalling conditions yet still charge for a job that is not to any standard, safe or adequate.
However, all is not lost! There are some things that you can do to protect yourself or a relative from Rogue Traders just follow a couple of simple steps.
Finding decent tradespeople
Go by personal recommendation. Ask people who have had works done recently and if there is no-one to ask then ask the company to tell them about their last job and to put you in touch with that customer. Any tradesperson worth their salt will have no problem pointing you in the right direction. Past clients will know what you need to know.
If they refuse to put you in touch with past customers – walk away!
Ask for a written quotation
Get everything in writing. For smaller jobs you may need to write your own ‘quote’ before the tradesperson starts work outlining what you expect and the price. The amount of detail really does depend on the job. For bigger projects it should be inclusive, smaller ones can have a much looser description. For example, if a tradesperson quotes for all the work within their trade they cannot then single out parts of the job later and seek to either exclude them or charge extra.
If they cannot offer you anything in writing or refuse your quote for a small job – walk away!
Get an Exchange of letters to confirm
‘Offer and Acceptance’ letters are usually the only form of Contract that is required and this is usually sufficient for anything but the most complex of jobs. These will need a formal tender and contract.
If your tradesperson cannot provide you with this – walk away!
Check that they are actually members of a Professional Association
In most cases membership of a well-known professional association should be sufficient, however, there have been reported cases where some more unscrupulous tradespersons display membership details that are fraudulent. Always check with the professional association such as the Federation of Master Builders.
If they say they are members but cannot be found listed – walk away
Asking for Money
Always be extremely cautious if a tradesperson asks to be paid ‘Up-Front’ especially for the whole amount. For the most part a builder will pay for materials at the end of the month following the month of purchase and they pay labour at the end of the week. If they need money for specialist or unusual materials offer to buy them yourself, that way the goods will always be yours. Sometimes on large jobs that will take several months to complete, the builder will ask for staged payments and that is perfectly acceptable.
If they ask you for money before starting a job – walk away!
Always protect yourself against things like this –
Yes, this is good for a chuckle and it is unlikely to happen, but it is best to err on the side of caution. We are proud members of the Federation of Master Builders, among others, and you can find our listing here.
IMPORTANT - If a tradesperson ever threatens you call the police immediately – regardless of the threats offered. Never put yourself in danger.
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