Opportunist rogue traders are attempting to cash-in on last week’s storms by conning homeowners into agreeing to quick repairs, it was claimed today.
The government’s consumer advice service – Consumer Direct – says it has received a number of calls about gangs of tradespeople touting for business in affected neighbourhoods.
Carol Brady, Operations Manager for Consumer Direct, said: ‘If you have suffered storm damage to your house or garden, you might be tempted to accept the first offer that comes along, but this doesn’t always guarantee that you’ll be pleased with the result.
‘We are advising people to contact their insurance company in the first instance, and follow some simple steps to reduce the risk of being ripped off.’
Consumer Direct says homeowners should remember:
- before you organise any repairs, contact your insurance company. Some insurance companies may arrange approved traders to repair damage on your behalf, but if you organise your own repairs, check what will be covered
- when seeking a reliable trader, talk to family, friends and neighbours to get recommendations, or look for a Trustmark-registered firm. Be very cautious about employing tradespeople who make unsolicited visits
- consider getting written quotes (not estimates) from at least three traders
- consider making staged payments and keeping back a significant part of the cost until the repair job has been satisfactorily completed. If you do this, you can ask for defects to be put right without the need to make a claim or go to court for compensation
- if you are buying goods or services costing over £100, consider paying by credit card, as you may be able to claim your money back from the card company if the trader fails to honour the contract
Anyone experiencing problems with traders or needing further advice can call Consumer Direct on 08454 040506.