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Bogus workmen warning

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Herts police have issued a warning about bogus workmen who pocket cash and then leave jobs unfinished.

It follows a spate of incidents in the county in recent months. Police have now joined forced with Hertfordshire’s Trading Standards in a campaign to try to stamp out the cons.

Many out-of-pocket customers have complained about workmen who have vanished leaving jobs half done or badly finished.

Police say that in most cases, large quantities of cash have been paid in advance of the work being started and the victim has no way of tracing the workmen or company.

Officers say it is common that these door-knocking ‘workmen’ are not based locally and want to be paid in cash.

According to trading standards, an individual’s consumer rights are of no use if the trader leaves you in a mess without trace.

"Traders who operate in this way capitalise on catching homeowners off-guard. They are often fast-talking and very persuasive. If you have to open the door at all, put your chain on, it will be easier to say no to the caller and shut the door," a spokesman said.

Police have offered the following advice to help avoid being caught out ...

  • If a workman does call at your door, make sure that the person is who they say they are - take a contact telephone number (not a mobile) and say you will call back later to confirm if you want the work done. You can then speak with friends, family or the police about what the workman was offering
  • Ask where they advertise, or if they are listed in the phone book. Also ask for contact details of previous customers - then check that the details are true and that they are happy with work that was carried out
  • Don’t pay up front - regardless of how demanding they are. Ask for a written quotation on headed paper and always pay by cheque - genuine workmen will be happy to carry out business in this way. Always obtain at least three estimates for any work that you want doing
  • If you need to have work done to your property, ask neighbours, colleagues, friends and family for the name of a trader who has done good work for them before. Otherwise choose a well-known respected company.
Police say their main advice is not to allow casual callers to carry out any work on your property, be it roofing, driveways or gardening.

And they have appealed to the public for help in catching the fraudulent workmen.

"Our message is to keep a look out and if you see or suspect bogus workmen are operating in your area please contact your local police station, it is important that neighbourhoods work together to protect elderly and vulnerable home owners," the spokesperson said.

You can contact the Trading Standards Doorstep Hotline on 08456 044466 to report a trader or obtain advice.

January 11, 2003

Related News
Doorstoppers against bogus callers - December 1, 2002

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