Untrustworthy plumberSting catches spitting plumber

10 May 2006

A plumber was filmed spitting into a cold water tank in the latest undercover sting of rogue tradesmen set up by Surrey trading standards officers (TSOs).

The cowboy was secretly recorded as he spat in the tank that holds the house's water supply. He was called to fix a simple fault which should have taken minutes to put right but instead he wasted time, and now faces prosecution over his fee.

The plumber was among 41 traders called to Surrey County Council's 'House of Horrors' within the last few months. TSOs rented a house and fitted it with secret cameras, then one posed as a householder and invited a series of workmen to carry out jobs.

Last year's sting caught a plumber pouring his urine into the central heating tank.

Overcharging

This year, Surrey uncovered shoddy gas boiler engineers who failed to carry out simple safety checks. Out of all the traders called eight workmen failed to arrive and 20 per cent of those who did turn up overcharged, wasted time or did unnecessary work. Seven could now face prosecution.

Surrey TSO Peter Denard said: 'This operation is very important as there are still a large number of cowboy traders operating around the county. Surrey Trading Standards are working hard to drive these conmen out of the industry by identifying and prosecuting these rogues.

'Surrey's very own 'House of Horrors' investigation aims to catch these cowboys in the act. We will continue this kind of operation until the rogues understand that they cannot get away with this behaviour any longer.

'In Surrey, we received 782 complaints from the public about cowboy tradesmen last year who we estimate rip off Surrey residents to the tune of GBP 10 million each year.'