Many trades recommendation websites are genuine and carry out due diligence before making a listing. On some sites, however, little or no proof of experience, expertise or qualifications is required from the tradesperson/company. Instead, all that is needed is payment of a fee. Sometimes, the customer reviews have also been fabricated. Believing that you are engaging an expert, this could result in:
- Work that is substandard.
- Work that is dangerous.
- Work that is not guaranteed, or the guarantee is worthless, potentially reducing the value of your property.
- Tradespeople with no public liability insurance, all-risk cover or employer’s liability insurance (where appropriate).
- Paying in excess of commercially acceptable market rates for the work.
- Fraudulent tradespeople who request payment up-front – often ‘for materials’ – only to abscond with your money.
Protecting yourself – and your property
- Before engaging a tradesperson, search online for positive and negative reviews (not just trades recommendation websites).
- Meet in person to discuss the job, at your home or other place where it is to be carried out.
- Ensure that the tradesperson is willing to provide the address and phone number of their business premises, and check that these are authentic.
- Ensure that the tradesperson/company you engage is qualified and experienced in carrying out the type of work you want, to the quality you need.
- Get a written estimate for the work in advance of instructing the tradesperson to proceed.
- If you make any upfront or stage payments, make sure you get a typed or written receipt, specifying the amount paid and what it is for.
- Also, ensure you receive a receipt for the final payment, or the whole payment if this is made on completion.
- Some fraudsters drive their victims to the bank to withdraw large sums of money for what they believe are upfront payments. If this happens to you, alert a neighbour, or make it clear to a bank employee that you are there under duress.
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