Residents warned against cold callers offering property repairs

Residents are being warned to be wary of cold callers offering to do property repairs after the recent storms.

Oxfordshire County Council’s Trading Standards team is receiving an increased number of complaints about cold callers and leaflets for traders being put through the door, resulting in some reports of overcharging for work, charging for unnecessary work and completing work of poor quality.

Councillor Dr Nathan Ley, Oxfordshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Public Health, Inequalities and Community Safety, said: “The start of storm season and the wet autumn weather is a perfect opportunity for doorstep criminals to take advantage of residents who have a leaking roof, broken tiles – or are falsely told that such work is required to their property.

“It is also an opportunity to sell insulation products which can be unsuitable for residents’ needs.

“Many traders will be booked up, so the advice is to be wary of ‘traders’ who can arrive to start the work the following day and push for a quick agreement to use them.”

Jody Kerman, Head of Trading Standards at Oxfordshire County Council said: “Don’t agree to offers of building work, home repairs or maintenance that come from a cold call. Don’t be afraid to say no, don’t be pressured and check with others if the work is required and what is a fair price to pay. If it’s out of the blue, it’s not for you!”

“I encourage people to ‘take five’ – stop and take a moment and think, do I really need this work done? Obtain other quotes and seek advice, and recommendations for trades people from friends and relatives.

“I would also encourage getting three quotes from different traders before you agree to any work being done.”

Here are some top tips from Oxfordshire County Council’s trading standards team:

  • If it is out of the blue, it’s not for you! Don’t agree to work from an unsolicited, cold call.
  • Be aware of ‘alarm bell’ tactics, claims such as – ‘I was working in the area and saw that your garden/roof needed urgent attention’; ‘we are working at one of your neighbours’ and we have some material left over’; ‘I can take you to the bank/cashpoint to get the money’.
  • Take five to stop fraud. Taking a moment to stop and think before parting with your money or information could keep you safe. Trust your instincts.
  • If you want some work undertaken, get a number of detailed quotes in writing, including full contact details and a detailed breakdown of exactly what work will be done.
  • Be cautious about any requests for large deposits. For larger work, agree when staged payments will be paid and what work should be completed before any money is handed over. Stick to what is agreed.
  • Ensure the trader has sent over contract of the total price before any work starts and information regarding statutory 14 days cancellation rights. The trader should never ask someone to sign these away.
  • Check with friends and family for trusted recommendations and consider a trading standards’ approved trader, from the Buy with Confidence scheme.
  • Consider learning more about how scams work and how you can protect yourself and others, by becoming a Friend Against Scam.

The Competition and Markets Authority have produced a useful video to make the right decision when it comes to insulation products and ensure homeowners know their rights.

For more advice on consumer rights, or to report a rogue trader to trading standards, contact the Citizens Advice national consumer helpline on 0808 223 1133 or by visiting its website citizensadvice.org.uk.

If a crime is in progress or if you feel threatened or intimidated, call 999.

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