RCT Council Trading Standards continues to receive reports of rogue traders and doorstep callers attending either elderly or vulnerable residents’ properties, regardless of the time of the year.
In all cases with ‘Rogue Traders,’ the work is generally of an unacceptable quality and despite increases in the agreed price, it is so poor that it is usually not worth the money that was first agreed. Rogue Traders are only there to make as much money as they can using fraudulent means.
Such callers will usually cold call at the property offering to carry work, advise that they have noticed there is a problem that needs fixing or state that they were working in the area.
The usual type of work they carry out will be home improvements such as installing patio’s, driveways, roofing or building work or gardening work including tree surgery. They usually return to properties they have worked at before or target areas, sometimes travelling hundreds of miles to do so, until they are either stopped or there is no work left to do in the area .
Whilst Trading Standards and South Wales Police will investigate and intervene in any reported cases, it is still an under reported issue that is targeted at our friends, families and neighbours.
Whilst Rhondda Cynon Taf Trading Standards and South Wales Police have set up Cold Calling Control Zones which identify areas where the residents do not welcome cold callers selling goods or services at their property, any person’s house can be a Cold Calling Control Zone if a request is made to any cold caller selling either goods or services to leave and not return is ignored.
This request can be made either verbally or via a window sticker with the written request, but either way this is a banned practice that makes it illegal if a trader refuses or ignores such a request.
Trading Standards confirm that if a caller is suspicious or you are not expecting anyone:
- Look before you answer the door – glance through a window or spy hole to see who it is and if they have a recognisable vehicle
- Never agree to have work done or part with money on your doorstep – always discuss with a friend or relative to make your choice, not with the person at the door
- Always get written quotes (not estimates) from at least two traders for any work
- Always agree the price, payment arrangements and start/finish dates in writing before any work starts on your home
- Don’t pay in full until you are completely satisfied with the work
- Be vigilant with identity cards – these can be faked, so if you’re not expecting anyone, call their organisation to check their credentials using numbers from utility bills, telephone directories or websites (if there is an accomplice, they may answer the telephone number on the back of the ID Card)
- Set up a password with your utility company – this will be a memorable word that is only known to you and the company and will be given if they are legitimately from that Utility Company
- If a caller has an appointment for a specific time and they are legitimate, try to arrange for someone to be there with you to check their authenticity
Remember - It’s not impolite to close the door if you are not interested in what they are offering, unhappy with the caller or wish to discuss with a family member or friend first – If in doubt, keep them out!
It is also important to remain vigilant and look out for neighbours within our communities and some signs that an unwanted doorstep caller might be visiting a neighbour may be:
- A van parked nearby with workmen in, on, or near your neighbour's property
- Ladders or scaffolding suddenly appear
- Noises such as banging, drilling, or chainsaws
- Trees are suddenly removed or pruned in your neighbour's garden
- Poor quality work visible on the roof, driveway, or property
- Your neighbour appears anxious or distressed
- Your neighbour leaves their house more frequently to visit bank, building society, or post office accompanied by a trader
Rhondda Cynon Taf Trading Standards encourages residents to report suspicious callers, rogue traders or traders ignoring any requests to leave on either via Citizens Advice Consumer Services on 0808 223 1133 or via South Wales Police on 101.
Posted on 30/11/2022