Rogue traders – people who prey on the vulnerable – are a minority, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t still plenty of them about, and they give decent trades people a bad name. Mechanics, plumbers, electricians, decorators – and yes, welders too – there are bad eggs to be found in all these boxes. Those of us with a sense of honour and fair play want to see these people out of the game and out of business, so that trust in the good service that we provide may be restored, and we will always do whatever we can to make sure they are named and shamed.
But the public has a role to play to. By being vigilant you can minimise the chances of you ever being ripped off by a scammer or a cowboy workman. Here are just a few things that you can do:
- Check Online Reviews
The internet is your friend. Most good established traders these days will have positive feedback on directories such as Yell.com, and trades sites. Go for one that has a good number of four- or five-star reviews. One or two is not enough – they have probably written those themselves!
- Get Recommendations
If a tradesman has given a good service to your friends or members of your family then the chances are they will to you too. A personal recommendation from someone you trust will put your mind at rest.
- Don’t Give Business to Doorstep Traders
Someone knocks on your door out of the blue and tells you you have loose slates on your roof. Like he just happened to notice them from down on the street! If you haven’t got loose slates you will have once he’s been up there for a few minutes. Don’t fall for that one.
- Check Qualifications
Some trades require that people who practice have certifications, amongst them gas fitters and plumbers. Don’t be embarrassed to ask – if they are qualified they’ll be happy to prove it to you and if they’re not you shouldn’t be using them.
- Get Multiple Quotations, in Writing
It is always wise to get at least three quotes for a job, and to get them in writing. If the final cost of the job is at variance with the quote then demand to know why, and if you are not satisfied with the explanation then do not pay the difference.
- Use a Trader With a Fixed Address
Any trader who doesn’t publish a fixed address and preferably also a landline number has something to hide. Make sure any workmen you use are traceable and, if in doubt, do a little detective work to ensure the address is genuine before engaging them.
- Don’t Pay Upfront
Why does a workman want you to pay upfront? Does he know you won’t be happy with the job afterwards? Some small traders such as decorators may reasonably ask you to pay for basic materials before undertaking a job but under no circumstances pay for work before it is completed and you have had a chance to inspect it.