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Rogue traders

Hertfordshire Trading Standards and the police often receive reports about traders cold calling at the door and telling homeowners that they need work to be done to their home or garden, for example that their roof or guttering are damaged or that their trees are unsafe and need work.

The work has then been badly done and sometimes the price jumped by ten times because the trader “helpfully” found other gardening work that also had to be done! 

We also receive reports about other home maintenance cold calls such as driveway work and roof cleaning. In some driveway cleaning cases the traders have persuaded the homeowner to have the back patio cleaned as well as the front drive, causing the price to jump up hugely from the original estimate. Although roof cleaning may make the tiles look cleaner, the force of the pressure washer can cause other problems with the roof. The National Federation of Roofing Contractors advises that moss is not a problem on a roof and that this service is completely unnecessary. 

Trading Standards advice is never to have work done by anyone who cold calls. No reputable trader ever approaches a customer in this way. If you think your home or garden needs work, please use a recommendation from friends/neighbours or find a good trader using the link below. You should also obtain three quotes to check if the price is competitive and if the work really needs doing - never rely on the word of a single trader. 

Any contracts over £42 that are agreed in a consumer's home are subject to a 14 day cooling off rights. The homeowner must be given written information about their right to cancel, about the identity of the trader who is doing the work and the total cost of the work to be carried out. The consumer must authorise the trader in writing if the work is to start within the 14 day cooling off period. Just having a statement on a flyer or business card that there is a 14 day cooling off period is not enough. 

Please keep an eye out for any vulnerable neighbours who may be approached by cold callers. If someone has agreed to work from a cold call and there is no paperwork, it is likely that there will be a problem. 

Similarly, if you see roof work being carried out and there is no scaffolding in place, there is likely to be a problem with that trader. Call 101 to let the local police know. If you need further help or advice please contact the Citizen's Advice Consumer Service on telephone 03454 040506

Hertfordshire trading standards have partnered with Which? Trusted Traders to provide a scheme that helps consumers find trustworthy traders and gives hardworking businesses the recognition they deserve. Consumers have access to a list of local traders who they can use knowing they’ve been checked and assessed before being endorsed. 

In order to a become member, a business must apply for an assessment. Not every business who applies gets through, but for those that do the endorsement is a sign of reputation and trust. 

The assessment comprises a set of tailored background checks, including criminal records, creditworthiness, any county court judgments and maintenance of insurance. References are required from previous customers and applicants must agree to abide by the scheme’s code of conduct. 

Only if all the requirements are met, will a business be able to join as an endorsed trader and the business will be monitored and reassessed every year. We cannot promise that an endorsed trader’s work will be perfect every time, but you can expect any problems to be dealt with fairly by the business. Plus any business who fails to comply with the code of conduct can be suspended or removed. If something does go wrong, consumers also have the reassurance of an independent Alternative Dispute Resolution service. 

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