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Seal The Deal Correctly

South Gloucestershire Council Trading Standards - 23rd September 2013

South Gloucestershire Council Trading Standards would like to remind residents to be vigilant after seeing a recent increase in rogue trading complaints.

Officers have also been dealing with a number of complaints where residents have agreed for work to be carried out involving cleaning and/or sealing of driveways and roofing tiles. Some cases have involved ‘aggressive commercial practices’ carried out by the trader. These are actions by the trader that coerce, harass or intimidate a consumer into making a decision to purchase goods or services. In one case the resident was asked to keep the price she was paying a secret – this may be an example of a trader charging extortionate amounts for the work being done and by convincing the resident not to tell anyone, it is unlikely their tactics would come to light.

In another case, a vulnerable resident was driven to the bank by the trader in order to withdraw thousands of pounds for unnecessary work. The bank became suspicious and called the police.

Traders have also failed to give residents written notice of their cancellation rights. In one case the resident was asked to tick to say she had seen them, but was not given a copy as required by law.

If a resident enters into an agreement with a trader in their home, they are legally entitled to receive written notice of their cancellation rights. If a trader fails to provide this notice, they may be committing a criminal offence. The contract is also unenforceable against the consumer, meaning the trader could not sue them for any outstanding monies.

In another case the resident was given her cancellation rights notice, but work started immediately. Where a resident agrees to work starting before the seven day cooling off period expires, the resident must sign to show they agree to this. This did not happen in this instance, which could again constitute an offence of an aggressive commercial practice.

Due to the nature of these complaints and the potential for aggressive business practices, Trading Standards officers would like to hear from anyone who thinks they may have received such a visit, or knows of friends or family who have. Senior Trading Standards enforcement officer Neil Derrick can be contacted on 01454 864565.

To report any other type of scam or for advice on consumer related issues please contact the Citizens Advice consumer service on 08454 04 05 06 (Mon-Fri, 9am-5pm).