West Yorkshire Trading Standards Service today warned of the misery caused by cowboy roofers who target elderly householders and persuade them to pay thousands of pounds for work which is either unnecessary or sub-standard.
Glossy leaflets delivered door to door promise new uPVC fascia, soffits and guttering for a few hundred pounds, all backed by an impressive-sounding 10 year guarantee. Trade names used are similar to well known national home improvement companies.
However, recent complaints to Trading Standards indicate that householders who take up these offers are told their roofs need urgent and extensive work to replace rotten felting and wooden battens. The work is quoted at thousands of pounds and the trader wants to start immediately. Unfortunately faced with these tactics many householders agree to the work without a second opinion:
In a recent case, an elderly Leeds resident agreed to the fitting of plastic caps to tiles on his roof, originally quoted as £230 but then £850 which rose to £6,500 to replace allegedly rotten battens supposedly found whilst working on the roof.
Householders should be aware that the majority of contracts for work over £170 made in their homes are cancellable. Current consumer protection legislation has raised the cancellation period to 14 days. But consumers should be wary of being asked to sign to agree that the work commences immediately – if they do and then cancel they will be liable for the work done up to that point.
Trading Standards Officers’ enquiries are continuing into this and similar cases.
Members of the public who are contemplating roofing work at their homes are urged to identify reputable traders by asking for and checking written references and contacting reputable trade organisations. In particular trade organisations whose members offer insurance-backed guarantees. Details of vetted traders can be obtained from:
*CASAC (Community Action and Support Against Crime) Checkpoint service on 0845 8388851 see www.casac.org.uk/checkpoint
*The Leeds Directory (for elderly consumers) 0113 393 8333 http://www.leeds.gov.uk/residents/Pages/Leeds-Directory.aspx
*Age UK Business Directory (Calderdale and Kirklees) http://www.aubdcalderdaleandkirklees.co.uk/ 0800 0126508
David Lodge, Head of Trading Standards said: “My advice to homeowners wanting to invest substantial sums in home improvements, is to choose roofers very carefully. They should also insist on written contracts detailing works to be carried out.
“Substantial advance cash payments should be avoided and professional advice should be sought where appropriate. This Service can and will take action against the minority of traders who engage in unfair commercial practices.”
Coun Andrew Pinnock, of the West Yorkshire Trading Standards Committee said: “Rogue traders cause misery to their victims who are left seriously out of pocket by a combination of shoddy and unnecessary work. Much of this type of crime goes unreported. Consumers who suspect rogue traders are working or leafleting in their street are encouraged to report it to the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 03454 04 05 06.”