Trading Standards warn over rogue contractors

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Aberdeenshire Council Trading Standards are warning householders against giving driveway and other building repair work to people who call at the door.

The warning follows a complaint they received about rogue workmen cold calling in Aberdeenshire, claiming to have worked for the council.

Every year Trading Standards receive complaints about itinerant workmen carrying out work such as laying driveways, roof repairs or gardening work.

On this occasion the men said they were working in the area and that they had surplus tar that they needed to get rid of.

Senior trading standards officer David Tough said: “Typically, the rogue traders will try to get the homeowner to agree to the work being carried out straight away. The homeowner will be made to feel that the offer is for a limited time and if they don’t sign up, they’ll miss out. They may also use deceptive and misleading claims, as in this case where they falsely claimed to have worked for the council.”

Although doorstep trading is not illegal, there is a substantial risk in purchasing from such traders. While the prices being offered may be tempting, hasty decisions made on the doorstep can sometimes result in agreeing to work that isn’t necessary, and often turns out to be more expensive than quoted. In many instances what initially appears to be a bargain turns out to be a costly nightmare. Work carried out to a poor standard if it’s done at all, often ends up with the homeowner paying another trader to put it right.

Chair of Aberdeenshire Council’s Infrastructure Services Committee, Councillor Peter Argyle said “There are traders who call at your door who are honest and genuine. However there are others who may look to take advantage of you by using clever and persuasive tactics.

“It is now an offence for a salesman to fail to leave your property when asked, and such instances can be reported to our Trading Standards team for further investigation.”

Trading Standards is also warning people to be wary when responding to flyers or ads in newspapers and directories. People can be taken in by the presence of a local telephone number. Phone numbers can be purchased by people based anywhere and then automatically linked to a mobile phone.

Regulations on doorstep selling provide consumers with a cooling-off period. If you are at home when you agree the terms of a contract you generally have seven days to change your mind. The rules apply whether you are cold-called or you contact a company by responding to an advertisement or a leaflet delivered to your home.

Traders must give consumers written details of their right to cancel the agreement, and other information such as the trader’s address. Failure to do this is a criminal offence, and the contract cannot be enforced against the consumer.