29 November 2011
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
How To Not Get Ripped off By a Rogue Trader
Half of UK Homeowners Have Been Ripped Off by Rogue Traders – Survey reveals
According to Checkatrade.com – the UK’s most trusted website for monitoring the reputation of tradespeople – half of homeowners in the UK have been ripped off by a rogue trader or cowboy builder, while one in seven has been targeted three or more times.
The survey, conducted amongst 2,000 UK homeowners, found that Londoners are most at risk, with 53 per cent having fallen victim to rogue traders. In Northern Ireland just 3 in 10 have suffered at the hands of cowboys.
Despite the perception that older people are more likely to be preyed on by unscrupulous traders, the research highlighted that younger people are almost twice as likely to be ripped off as the over 50s.
Two-thirds of 18-24 year olds have already been ripped off at least once and a quarter three or more times. Only a third of over 55s have been regularly targeted.
Commenting on the findings, Kevin Byrne, founder of Checkatrade, said: “This research highlights the sheer scale of the problem we face in ‘Rip Off Britain’.
“Rogue traders perform substandard work for financial gain, a disgraceful and often lethal practice that ruins properties and costs people thousands of pounds every year.
“It is important that we vet and monitor trades companies to protect homeowners and their families from cowboys.
“Checking up on someone is quick, easy and free. It is an essential precaution that helps avoid accidents, disruption and financial loss.”
Top Tips to avoid rogue traders
* Watch out for contractors who cold call or doorstep you – ask yourself why they need to.
* Make sure you have adequate contact details for your trader in case things go wrong. In addition to a mobile number you should be looking for a landline number, office address and trade association membership details.
* Reputation is everything. Try to use builders who have been recommended to you by people you trust. Take up references from other satisfied customers who have had similar work done and have a look online.
* Have a look at www.checkatrade.com for details of tradespeople who have been vetted to a high standard, and had their insurance, qualifications and professional memberships verified, with scores out of ten from customers.
* Take the time to properly brief tradesmen and put it in writing to avoid any confusion. Be as detailed as possible.
* Obtain quotes from at least three contractors and insist on a written quotation or estimate for the work. Keep them all on file in case of any disagreement.
* To avoid costs spiralling, try and get the job done on a fixed-price basis in case the work takes longer than expected.
* Delayed start dates or long drawn out works can have a major knock on effect on any other buildings works so agree a start date and estimated finish date. However, trades can be delayed by factors outside of their control.
* Avoid anyone who specifically asks for cash – it is illegal to ask for cash payments if the trader does not put it through the books and declare it as taxable income. Cash jobs may result in a receipt not being given, without a receipt you will have no come back if things go wrong.
* Be careful about requests for upfront payments – it may imply they have cashflow problems. In our experience traders who ask for upfront payments often do so because they cannot get credit at their local builders’ merchants, which may indicate they are not financially healthy.
* Once you agree terms and before work starts draw up a simple contract, including the work to be done, the price and the timeframe. Any reputable builder will be happy to sign it, you should sign it yourself and have it witnessed and signed by an independent third party.
* Once work has begun, regularly check that works are on schedule and keep talking your contractor to make sure things are on track
NOTES TO EDITORS
Checkatrade helps combat the UK's rogue trader problem by continuously vetting and monitoring local traders such as builders, plumbers and electricians. The idea was born in 1998 after a tornado hit the small West Sussex town of Selsey. Traders poured in from as far away as Liverpool and Manchester. Unfortunately, some ripped off the inhabitants of the town. Local businessman, Kevin Byrne, realised there was nowhere to check out the traders’ credentials and the company that became Checkatrade was formed.
Since then, Checkatrade has grown to include over 6,300 genuine trade members, growing by an average 120 new members every month, and, via the Royal Mail, distributes 5.9 million directories a year into communities throughout Hampshire, Surrey, Sussex, Dorset and Berkshire, while the website includes traders from across the UK.
PR / Marketing, Checkatrade
5 - 6 Sherrington Mews, Ellis Square, Selsey, West Sussex, PO20 0FJ