Rogue traders get icy reception in St.Helens.
St.Helens Council’s Trading Standards team and Merseyside Police have teamed up as part of a national operation to tackle rogue traders.
They say rogue traders who 'cold call' at residents’ homes and offer to carry out work - such as gardening, roofing, and resurfacing - should always be turned away.
Often the work is unnecessary, done to a poor standard and substantially overpriced. In addition, the consumer is rarely able to trace traders afterwards if there are problems with the work.
Rogue traders, whose underhand activities are known as ‘doorstep crime’, are often closely linked with the activities of ‘distraction burglars’ - people who try to gain entry into homes to steal and who often pretend to be a council official or a representative from a water/electricity company or even a police officer.
Says Councillor Alison Bacon, Cabinet Member for Environmental Protection: “Both types of criminals target elderly or vulnerable people with a view to getting as much money as possible out of their victims. Therefore it is clearly important for Trading Standards and the Police to do as much as possible to stop these criminals before they commit further crimes.”
Merseyside Police and Trading Standards have carried out a number of activities over the last week within St Helens.
Joint patrols were out and about stopping traders around the borough and checking their activities. For legitimate traders based in St Helens it was an opportunity to receive free trader advice from the Trading Standards Service and to learn how they can apply to join the Trading Standards Trader Register. The patrols were also out to deter would-be rogue traders from operating.
Trading Standards now have a register of traders, where residents can find fair and reliable traders. Anyone who wants to know more about the scheme or to find a trader can visit www.sthelens.gov.uk/fairtraderfaircomment or contact Trading Standards via Consumer Direct on 08454 04 05 06.
A number of awareness raising events are currently taking place across the borough.
In addition, five more ‘No Cold Calling’ zones have been set up across the borough to help protect residents in specific areas from uninvited callers.
Merseyside Police Inspector Derek Riley said: "Although most people who call at your home are genuine, some are not and these people who often prey on the most vulnerable members of society, stripping people of their savings and in some cases getting people into debt for unnecessary or sub-standard work.
"This has been a successful operation and we hope it encourages people who have been victims of this kind of crime to come forward. We need to know where these people are operating so that we can do all that we can to highlight the damage they do and put them before the courts.
"I'd also urge residents to look out for elderly or vulnerable neighbours. If you notice someone suspicious in the area call the police or contact your local neighbourhood policing team via 0151 709 6010 for more advice."
Trading Standards advise anyone who needs work done to their home or garden not to trust a cold caller - but instead to seek out a reliable trader. Any trader who cold calls and insists on cash payments and who is even prepared to drive you to the bank to withdraw cash, should be avoided.
The law requires that traders must give consumers, who have agreed to work being done during a visit to your home, a seven day cooling-off period. This needs to be in a specific written format and should have the trader’s full details on it. This ensures that the consumer has the opportunity to think about what they have agreed to and cancel the agreement if they change their mind.