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Computer repairs were a computer rip off

South Gloucestershire Council Trading Standards - 1st May 2014

South Gloucestershire Council Trading Standards would like to remind residents to be cautious when choosing a trader and to ensure you know the full details of the company you choose.

This warning comes after the police received reports from elderly residents in the Bristol area who felt they had been conned by a trader they employed to mend their computers.

The residents responded to an advert in a newspaper offering computer repair services, which mentioned a discount for pensioners. The trader provided no paperwork and it is unclear what repairs he had actually undertaken. In one case he suggested it would be too costly to repair a laptop, so loaned the resident another for a fee of hundreds of pounds but had not returned the original computer. With no paperwork and only the mobile telephone number in the newspaper advert, it may prove difficult for the residents to pursue their complaints.

Earlier this month, a Somerset man was found guilty of operating a similar scam following an investigation by Devon and Somerset Trading Standards. The offender was handed a one year prison sentence, suspended for two years, by the court.

The scenario above demonstrates the need for consumers to know who they are dealing with. The following advice is offered to anyone looking to employ a tradesman:

  • If you are looking for a tradesman, do your homework. Seek recommendations from friends or family or look for a business that belongs to a reputable trade association.
  • Ensure you have the correct company name and/or owners name and the full postal address this will not guarantee the work is done satisfactorily but may enable you to take further action if things go wrong.
  • If you enter into a contract in your home you are afforded cancellation rights by law. It is a criminal offence if the trader does not give you written details of your right to cancel.
  • Make sure you ask for written details of the work agreed and what was actually done, and ask for proof of any payment you make, such as a receipt.

If you think you have fallen victim to a scam or rogue trader, please report it to Trading Standards via the Citizens Advice consumer service on 08454 04 05 06.