Alert over dodgy doorstep traders in Swindon
DOORS are being knocked for the right reasons in one neighbourhood after residents complained of serial doorstep sellers hawking house improvements.
Swindon Trading Standards have made a push to raise awareness of rogue traders, who have been targeting the area over the past three months with offers to repairs roofs, driveways and tend to gardens.
Officers from Swindon Council were accompanied by police community support officers in Lawn yesterday and for two days earlier this month with leaflets and an approved trader list for residents.
Council staff said they spoke to 300 residents in the three days of action although their attentions were also turned to traders carrying out work in the area with checks on their credibility.
Carla Baker, senior consumer advice and education officer with the council, said there have been three cases of rogue traders striking in Lawn over the past three months.
She said: “We are aware that it’s an area heavily targeted by doorstep callers because the majority of residents are elderly.
“We are telling residents those offering to do work with a knock at the door should never be dealt with.
“They have been very receptive. We’ve had no negative feedback from the people we’ve seen. Everybody is very grateful for the information and the time taken to warn them.
“Some people have admitted to having their fingers burnt by rogue traders in the past.”
Also in attendance was Paul Outlaw, PCSO from the Old Town beat, who said: “We have been doing a couple of patrols around here and informed the neighbourhood watch too.
“People complain about people knocking on their doors and trying to sell them stuff, which isn’t an offence, but the number of people fleeced is a concern.
“These people are knocking on doors and waiting for that one vulnerable person.
“These people are coming to doors are pointing out some problems on a house that don’t even need fixing.
“If you’re not a strong character it can be difficult to resist these sellers.”
Buy with Confidence is the scheme used by the council to keep residents aware of who they consider to be reputable traders.
All members of the scheme are independently checked by staff from Trading Standards for compliance with the law and will be monitored on a regular basis thereafter.
For further information, visit www.buywithconfidence.gov.uk.
Couple’s £1,000 saving
ONE elderly Lawn couple felt the full benefit of the new reputable trader scheme earlier this month.
Aged 91 and 86, the husband and wife, who asked to remain anonymous, saved over £1,000 on the relaying of their rear patio after Trading Standards intervened during their negotiations with a suspicious doorstep trader.
The trader had approached the husband with the offer of some roof improvements, but was turned down. However, the 91-year-old asked for work on levelling his patio, for which he was quoted £750.
Work started that same day, but the quoted price was soon upped to over £4,000, as the trader raised concerns about the level of work required.
The homeowner begrudgingly agreed to the new work until Trading Standards, on the first of their Lawn inspections, questioned this tradesman.
Council staff asked the trader to honour the customer’s seven-day cooling-off period whilst they sought a quote from the Buy with Confidence scheme. Eventually the customer had the work done for less than £3,000.
Although the original trader did nothing illegal, Trading Standards are keen to draw attention to the money which can be saved by residents if they do not accept work from doorstep sellers.
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