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Don’t be fooled by rogue traders calling at your home.

Date: 15/04/2008           Category: Community Safety

Cowboy workmen offering to repave driveways and paths are being shown the door by Medway Trading Standards as part of their work to make the area safer. The team is reminding residents and business owners that if offers of cheap work seem too good to be true, then they usually are just that. Medway Trading Standards deals with more than 5,000 requests for advice from residents and businesses a year and have stopped more than £17,000 worth of sales from rogue door-to-door salesmen since 2004. Senior Advice Officer Alistair Martin said the team is preparing for the seasonal influx of complaints and reports of bogus tradesmen who have worked as roofers in other areas of the country during the winter have now switched to the paving industry for the summer. He said traders typically offer to carry out repair work at a discounted rate, only to dramatically increase the price when the work is completed. He said: “We are warning anyone living and working in Medway not to be taken in by these too good to be true offers to have your driveway resurfaced or paved at a discount rate. What usually happens is a salesman will offer cheap labour for a certain fee, but increase the final bill once the job has finished. We’ve had some cases where residents have been taken in by these deals and ended up paying thousands of pounds to conmen for sub-standard work. “We work with a number of agencies, including the police, to make Medway a safer place to work and live. If you have fallen prey to this type of scam, we would like to hear from you even if only to provide us with intelligence to help tackle this important issue.” If a sales representative calls at a time when you are considering such work, ask for a written quote and make sure you have an address where you can write to complain. And never agree to have any work done immediately even if you are told the deal you are getting is for one day only. It is very unlikely the special offer will be a real one-off. Medway Council’s Trading Standards Team operate a fair trader scheme for the home improvement sector and members are regularly audited by Trading Standards officers to ensure they comply with the law. Customers have peace of mind and the knowledge their contractor is obeying the law, that contracts are fair and written in plain English, work is fairly priced, itemised invoices are provided, and an assurance work will not be carried out without their permission. More than 200 plumbers, builders and home repair companies have signed up to Medway Fair Trader since it was launched four years ago. It has also been accredited by the Office of Fair Trading. Medway Council’s Portfolio Holder for Community Safety and Enforcement Cllr Rehman Chishti said: “Instances where gangs of rogue traders target Medway residents is a concern to our enforcement departments. “The successful Medway Fair Trader scheme helps minimise these risks by giving residents details of Trading Standards-accredited companies that operate in the Medway area. However, the team is reliant on residents letting Trading Standards know about rogue traders working in Medway so they can intercept them before they leave the area.” If you have any information or wish to make a complaint about this type of business, or any other Trading Standards issue, please contact Consumer Direct by calling 08454 040506, or email Trading Standards at consumer.protection@medway.gov.uk. More details about Medway Fair Trader can be found at www.medway.gov.uk/fairtrader or by calling Customer First on 01634 333333.