Summer – time to protect yourself against doorstep crime

Jacqui Kennedy, Birmingham City Council’s Acting Strategic Director of Place, warns of the dangers of rogue DIY traders during the summer months.

People often look to improve their homes and gardens during the summer. Whether it’s double glazing, a patio or landscaping, these are all big projects which require expert knowledge and professional workmanship – not half-hearted, shoddy attempts by rogue traders.

However, the summer is also a peak period for rogue traders who go door-to-door trying to get people to have work done to their properties. So here are some hints and tips on how to get work done responsibly, without getting ripped off.

Doorstep crime refers to rogue traders, who make unannounced visits to a consumer’s home to carry out repairs to their property, convincing them to pay extortionate prices for substandard or incomplete work which is often unnecessary.

This is a serious issue but unfortunately it often goes unreported for various reasons, such as embarrassment, not knowing who to contact, or even realising you have been a victim of crime. Research conducted last year by the National Trading Standards Board revealed there could be as many as 170,000 incidents annually.

If you’re planning any major home improvements do research the work that needs to be done and seek out quotes from reputable traders before commissioning anyone to do the work. Such projects are an investment in your property, so why would you allow a stranger calling speculatively to do the work to your ‘castle’?

Rogue traders use a range of common ‘tricks’ to convince householders to have jobs done – often these may start as a ‘small’ repair, perhaps a roof tile has slipped or some brickwork needs repointing.

These can escalate to become ‘urgent’ jobs, which the householder is often told would be dangerous to leave in its current state, as it could cause further damage to or injury to others.

Such statements can lead people to become intimidated by the seemingly ‘expert’ trader – but don’t be rushed into anything.

When a trader calls unsolicited, be polite but firm that you don’t want any work doing there and then. If necessary, ask a friend or family member for help, or contact Trading Standards via the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 03454 04 05 06.

If you are worried about what the trader has told you, contact with some reputable traders to get several quotes on the work that is required, if anything, to ensure you get a fair price. Sign up to the No Rogue Traders website for free, to access details of trusted traders verified by Trading Standards in Birmingham, Solihull and Wolverhampton areas.

If you do enter into a contract at your home, remember you have a legal right to a ‘cooling off’ period, during which you can cancel a contract. So do not be pressured into making a hasty decision.

Unscrupulous traders often take advantage of this, scaring the householder into thinking the work is urgent, so that they will allow them to start work immediately and therefore waive their rights to a cooling off period.

Anyone can fall victim to a rogue trader so we need people to help us stop this sickening crime by refusing to be bullied into having shoddy, unnecessary work done, and reporting rogue traders so they can be prosecuted.

Remember: If it sounds or looks too good to be true, it probably is – so take time to make a decision.

For advice and to report rogue traders, contact Trading Standards via the Citizens Advice Consumer Service hotline on 03454 04 05 06. For more information visit these websites:

Birmingham Trading Standards:

No Rogue Traders Here: