A West Ashby couple are helping Lincolnshire Trading Standards is raising awareness of doorstep crime as part of National Consumer Week 2014 (3 – 7 November).
The service is urging residents to be more cautious and help out family members, friends and neighbours after 67 residents were caught out by rogue traders last year, scamming £92,000 from their pockets.
A further 121 residents complained after pushy visitors had insisted they needed building or maintenance work on their home.
It is estimated that 80-90 per cent of incidents go unreported, meaning another 1,600 may have been targeted and up to £1.6m could have actually been swindled from people.
Earlier this year, Mr and Mrs Dunk were approached at their home in West Ashby by bogus builders who claimed to be doing roofing work in the area.
Being impressed by the company and the cost, the couple handed over £1,800 for work to begin. What the Dunk’s were left with was a roof ‘bleeding’ pink every time it rained and a hefty bill along with it.
Mr Dunk recalls: “I knew that a small amount of work needed doing but as soon as it began I had concerns.
“Unfortunately, this was only the start and as the work went on, it became less and less satisfactory.
“It got to the point that the tradesmen were creating more work by taking up parts of the roof and claiming it was in bad condition.
“Both my wife and I informed the tradesmen that work had been carried out on the roof the previous year, but they were not prepared to repair things without a fee.
“After a lot of discussion, we handed over another £350 in good faith to sort the issue and complete the work, which we thought would be the end of our problems.
“Shortly after though, we discovered that the tradesmen failed to seal the roof and it bled pink every time it rained.
“As a result, we contacted Lincolnshire Trading Standards who have been a great help.
“In total we have spent just over £2,000, and we are still suffering as a result of the work which is incredibly frustrating.
“I’d warn anyone who is looking to have work done to hire someone reputable and to sign a contract.
“I am angry and upset but it is a mistake we made and unfortunately it is easy to be fooled by these people.”
Sally Gray, Senior Trading Standards Officer, says: “The cost was quite extortionate considering what work had actually been completed and when our expert examined the Dunk’s roof he confirmed that work had been completed to a very poor standard.
“We would advise people to always get three quotes for any work or services that are required, and if you are unsure then ask for recommendations from family and friends or a neighbour.
“Tradesmen who are busy have no need to cold call or tout for business. Never agree for work to be started straight away, think about it first and never trade in cash on your doorstep. If you’re not sure – don’t open the door.
“If you do see that a neighbour is being harassed, please make sure that they are ok and don’t need any help. If we are all good neighbours we can stop rogue traders!”
*If you think you’ve been a victim of doorstep crime, please call the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 03454 040506 or visit www.adviceguide.org.uk. If a rogue trader will not leave your premises call 999.
If you have an elderly or vulnerable neighbour please take part in the ‘Nominated Neighbour’ scheme, run by the police.
This involves checking the identity of the caller on behalf of the resident. For more information please visit your local police station.