March 10 2014 Latest news:
Jane Ball, News editor
Thursday, February 13, 2014
Cowboy builders trying to cash in on the ongoing wet weather has triggered a flood of complaints to Havering Council Trading Standards.
* Refuse to use anyone who calls at the door uninvited
* Use a firm which is part of the Buy with Confidence scheme as they are approved by Trading Standards
* Get quotes from at least three different firms so you can compare price s and the work they say needs to be done
* If in doubt contact Trading Standards
Council officers have already saved three vulerable residents from handing over tens of thousands of pounds to doorstep traders claiming that roof and gutter repairs were needed in the past week.
But they were too late for one householder who had already paid £5,000 for work worth a fraction of that cost.
Upminster and Cranham are the areas currently being targeted although other parts of the borough could be next.
Typically the rogue trader tells a resident that a gutter is blocked or some roof tiles are missing and quotes a low price to do the repair.
Once the work starts further “damage” is identified with repair costs rapidly escalating.
Often the resident lives on their own, is elderly or otherwise vulnerable and can lose their life savings.
The council has set up a banking protocol which means banks in the borough are alert for customers withdrawing unusually large sums of cash and if it is to pay construction related business alert police and Trading Standards so follow up checks can be made.
Havering Council cabinet member for public protection, Cllr Lesley Kelly, said: “We have seen a sudden surge in the number of residents reporting these rogue traders. We want to flush them out into the open so they get the message they are not welcome in our borough.
“Council officers are working with the police to clamp down on these cowboys and we would urge any resident who is approached to contact us with details, registration numbers of vehicles being used are particularly useful to help identify those responsible.”
One of those targeted by the rogue traders, an 80-year-old woman from Cranham, said: “I am very grateful to the bank police and trading standards as their help stopped me transferring a lot of money to these rogue traders.”
Advice is available from 0845 404 0506 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
More information at www.havering.gov.uk/buywithconfidence