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Scam Alerts - Cold Calling for Tree and Garden work

Alert message sent 05/12/2020 08:31:00

Information sent on behalf of Hampshire Constabulary

Hampshire Trading Standards are asking residents to be alert to cold callers at the door this Winter. With the nights drawing in and bad weather likely, rogue traders may use these conditions as an excuse to tout for work around the home and garden.

In order to persuade the resident to have work done, the initial approach by the cold caller will be friendly and they will appear to be concerned and helpful. But all too often the cold caller will attempt to worry and pressurise the resident into having work done – even if it doesn’t need doing.  For example: “your tree is leaning dangerously, it needs to come down or could fall on the neighbours’ property”; or “Your neighbour is worried about your tree falling on his property, did you know you could end up with a big bill if anything were to happen”; or “Your tree’s branches are overhanging the path and are dangerous.  You would be liable if someone got injured”; or “I can see from here that your roof tiles are loose.  If you don’t get them fixed immediately they will blow off, your roof will leak and your ceiling will fall in”.

In a case recently highlighted to Trading Standards, an older resident from the Basingstoke area was approached by a man who said their tree was dangerous and likely to fall into the neighbour’s house. The resident reluctantly agreed to have some branches removed for £30. The man then said the tree needed to come down as it was damaged.  Five more men arrived and cut the tree down. The price was escalated to £750, then reduced to £650.  When the resident asked about chipping the tree’s branches, the men carried out the chipping,  but escalated the price to £5,600. The resident felt intimidated and paid a total of £6,250.

No paperwork was given before or after the work.

TRADING STANDARDS STRONGLY ADVISE RESIDENTS NOT TO AGREE TO WORK THAT IS INSTIGATED AS A RESULT OF A COLD CALL.  Residents should obtain at least 3 written quotes from reputable businesses or traders who are either members of the Hampshire County Council Trading Standards Buy With Confidence scheme or a recognised trade association.

Members of the Buy With Confidence scheme are fully audited to ensure their trading practices are legal, honest and fair. All members have been checked for trustworthiness and compliance with consumer protection laws. Directories can be obtained free of charge by telephone on 0808 223 1133, email buy.with.confidence@hants.gov.uk or by order online via the Hantsweb Shop.

An up to date list of business is available on the Buy With Confidence web site.

Traders who agree work at the home of an individual or at a place other than their usual business premises are required by law to provide consumers with a Notice of Right to Cancel, which gives a 14 day cooling off period from the date the work starts. Even if work has started, there is still a legal right to cancel, although some payment may be required for materials already used.

Advertising flyers may contain insufficient and/or false information, making any civil action or criminal enforcement difficult.  Mobile phone numbers can easily be disposed of, addresses can be virtual or fabricated, even the company names are sometimes very similar, if not the same, as a genuine company. 

To inform Trading Standards about cold calling, please report the matter to our partners at the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 0808 223 1133.

Doorstep Crime can be reported to Hampshire Police on their non-urgent number 101 or dial 999 if you feel threatened or intimidated.
Message sent by
Emma Page (Police, PCSO, Basingstoke District)

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