HOMEOWNERS have been warned to watch for rogue traders after a mum was “charmed” into repairs which left her with a leaking roof and a bill for £2,600.
Angela Crossthwaite claims a smooth-talking builder badgered her to have work done on her home in Fulwood, Preston, and then did a botched job. She has since been unable to trace him.
Police say householders should never agree to have work done by cold callers. And Trading Standards is urging people to use its Safe Trader Scheme.
“I was fed up with him knocking on the door and he seemed a genuine bloke,” she said. “I’ll never trust a cold caller again and I’d advise others not to.
“My roof wasn’t leaking until he turned up. Now I’ve got puddles in my garage and the whole thing’s an absolute mess.
“I don’t know how I’m going to afford to have it repaired properly.”
Angela admits she was charmed into having the job done by the chatty tradesman doing driveways and building work in the Longfield area of Fulwood.
“He called several times and just kept on at me about getting it done,” she said. “He came across as honest and genuine, saying he had a daughter like me and he wouldn’t like to see her ripped off.
“I’m a single parent and it was a lot of money for me, so he even said I could pay in monthly instalments.
“Originally he said he would do the facias on the flat roofs at the front and back. Eventually I gave in and said ‘yes’ because I knew they needed doing.
“But instead he re-felted both flat roofs and it doesn’t take a master builder to see it’s a really shabby job.
“One of them now leaks and the lead flashing that was up there has vanished.
“I’ve tried getting my money back, but I can’t trace him. The company isn’t registered at the two addresses I was given in Preston and in London.
“I’m still chasing him and I’ll do my best to take him to court. But I’m not hopeful of getting anywhere.
“Maybe it’s too late for me, but I want to warn other people about giving work to people on the doorstep. I’ve learned my lesson – and it’s been an expensive one.”
The case comes just two weeks after two Lancashire brothers were sent to prison for ripping off an 81-year-old pensioner in Carnforth to the tune of £770 for work on his roof he didn’t need.
One was jailed for nine months and the other 20 weeks.
Another pair of brothers were also jailed last month at Preston Crown Court for conning an 84-year-old man out of £7,000 for gardening work which was “minimal and poor quality.”
In April police, trading standards and other agencies launched a week-long Operation Rogue Trader across Lancashire targeting doorstep
cowboys who pressure vulnerable people into having unnecessary and substandard work done on their homes.
Chief Insp Mike Adamson said: “Rogue traders are criminals who take advantage of householders by using high-pressure, forceful sales techniques.
“This kind of criminality is often linked to distraction burglaries, which are carried out by an offender gaining access to a property by distracting or deceiving the householder in order to steal valuables or cash. “During 2014 there were 55 domestic distraction burglaries, and of these 23 involved the cover story of being a workman in order to gain entry.”
It followed several cases of elderly people being defrauded out of cash by one cold-calling builder who vastly overcharged for jobs.
In one case an 84-year-old man paid him £3,800 for work worth just £200, while a Fulwood grandmother paid £2,200 for work which was never completed.
Lancashire Police say householders should never have any work done as a result of a cold call. And they have warned people against making snap decisions or being pressurised into having jobs done.
Their policy on doorstep crime is: “If you think work needs doing to your home, get written quotes from two or three traders, detailing the work to be done and a final price.
“Never rely solely on a mobile phone number. Ask friends and relatives to recommend a reputable business. Only pay in full once the work is completed to your satisfaction.”
And the county’s Trading Standards department runs a Safe Trader Scheme to help people find traders for property repairs, home improvements and domestic services such as cleaning and laundry.
Phone: 0303 333 1111.