A rogue trader is someone who comes to your house without invitation (cold calling), offers services or goods and overcharges you for them.
This includes overcharging for unnecessary work, damaging property deliberately to get money, leaving work unfinished and intimidating someone to get money.
Not all doorstep sellers who come to your home are criminals but you still need to protect yourself from those that are and take steps to ensure you get the best deal.
Use the guide below to help you reduce your risk of employing a rogue trader:
- Never deal at all with doorstep callers offering to carry out work on your home or garden. Don’t agree to repair work being done on the spot – shop around first.
- When gas or electric companies or other sales people knock at your door uninvited, never sign up to a contract straight away no matter how tempting it sounds or what special offers they promise you if you sign today. If they genuinely want your business the offer will still stand in a few days time when you have had a chance to see what is available on the market.
- If someone turns up unexpectedly at your door saying they are an official such as a council officer, police officer or meter reader, call the relevant organisations for confirmation before you let them into your home. Genuine officials will be happy to wait.
- If the trader says they are from a particular company or organisation, check that the tradesperson is from the company they say they are from.
- Ask for quotes in writing.
- Ring other traders to get a feel for the right price for the job or service. Always obtain at least three separate quotes from different traders to ensure you are getting a good deal before you commit yourself.
- Use a trader who is a member of an official body or recognised trade association. Always contact the trade association first to check if the trader is actually a member and to find out what can be done if things go wrong.
- Ask the trader for references from people they have worked for recently.
- If you want to find a trustworthy trader ask your family and friends who may have recently had works done successfully.
- Never deal with a trader if you do not know their full name, their land- line telephone number and their full postal address.
- Never pay large sums of money up front.
- If the trader insists on cash payments be suspicious. Never agree to go with a trader to your bank or building society to get money out – this is a sure sign that it is a scam.
- Remember traders must give you written notice of your right to fourteen days cancellation when agreeing to do work at your home, including work gained from a cold call. Read any documents carefully before you sign them. Don’t get taken in by sales banter or high pressure selling techniques.
- Please contact your local police station if you have any doubts about whether a tradesperson is legitimate or if you feel intimidated by someone who is working on your home.
- If you want further pre-shopping advice, feel you have been pressured into signing a contract on the doorstep or have been a victim of a rogue trader call the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 03454 04 05 06. For information on consumer rights visit the CAB - Adviceguide Website (external link)
For many types of works you can check the Trustmark website in our Useful External Links Section below . This is a Government backed initiative to help consumers find reliable traders.
The Trading Standards Institute website gives further advice on telephone sales and your rights to cancel contracts concluded at your home address. The link can be found in our Useful External Links Section below.
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