‘Operation Rogue Trader’
On Wednesday this week, Gloucestershire County Council Trading Standards took part in a national day of action to protect vulnerable residents from rogue traders.
‘Operation Rogue Trader’ was planned using intelligence from previous complaints received. Also taking part were Gloucestershire Police, Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC), Immigration Enforcement, The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA), Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA), Cotswold District Council, and the Environment Agency.
The action was taken in response to reports of traders, mostly those offering home improvements and gardening, ripping consumers off.
Over the past twelve months Gloucestershire County Council Trading Standards have received in excess of 730 complaints about traders offering or carrying out home improvements or gardening work.
Examples of poor quality work are often reported to trading standards but even more concerning are instances where householders are told they need emergency repairs carried out for safety reasons when this work is not required at all.
The service has noticed that whilst “cold calling” is reducing, rogue traders are still operating in the area. By working with neighbouring trading standards, and other partners it’s hoped that the amount of complaints received will reduce.
During the operation 18 traders were given advice packs and had their contracts and awareness of consumer rights checked.
Of the vehicles stopped, two were seized, three had no MOT, two had no excise licence, and two were defective. In addition one driver was reported.
Dave Norman, cabinet member responsible for trading standards said “Protecting the most vulnerable and continuing to reduce criminal activity is the key priority for our Trading Standards Team.
“Rogue traders and doorstep sellers can make people’s lives a misery and spot checks like these are important in helping us to identify them and learn more about how and where they are operating”
Andy Hermiston, acting chief fire officer and head of trading standards said “Our team regularly support our vulnerable residents when they have been targeted by scammers and rogues, the stories are heart-breaking and we are committed to working with our partners to bring offenders to justice”
Advice to protect yourself from rogues;
- Never agree to have work carried out on your home without obtaining three quotes from different traders – you can compare prices as well as the work that they say you need to have done.
- Don’t feel pressured if someone says it’s urgent – you decide this and you still want to check that what they are saying is correct.
- Make sure you know how much it will cost before you agree. Get this in writing and make sure you are issued with a contract including your rights to cancel within 14 days if the work is over £42.
- Be suspicious! If the trader is “just passing” and “can do the job for you today at a discounted rate” then our simple advice is to say no. This tactic is often used to make you agree quickly. Before you know it, they have taken your money and you are likely to regret your decision.
For consumer advice or to report a rogue trader call 03454 040506, in an emergency call 999 and report to the police who work closely with trading standards to protect consumers.