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If your home has been damaged by the storms ‘beware of cold callers’

Posted on: 22 February 2022

Trading Standards is urging householders, particularly the elderly and vulnerable, to be on their guard for rogue traders who might try to cash in on the damage caused by recent storms.

At the end of last week and over the weekend Devon, Plymouth, Torbay and Somerset were hit by a series of storms which damaged homes and property.

Now the Heart of the South West Trading Standards Service is urging householders to always reject offers of goods and services from cold callers, which could include people claiming to be tree surgeons or roofers, and other tradespeople who call or knock on the door uninvited.

There is concern that desperate householders may drop their guard and be duped by unscrupulous traders who will try to convince them there is a problem when there isn’t or that they can fix damage quickly and at a more competitive rate.

Paul Thomas, the Head of the Heart of the South West Trading Standards, which covers Devon, Somerset, Plymouth and Torbay, said: “We know from previous storms that rogue traders will try to take advantage.

“These people target the vulnerable and elderly. They might knock on your door and say a branch is damaged or a tile is loose and is dangerous – ignore them.

“If someone on the doorstep, or through an unsolicited telephone call, tells you that your property needs repairs or maintenance of any kind, be suspicious.

“If you need work done use a trusted source or visit a website like Buy With Confidence to find a reputable trader and try to get at least three quotes for work.”

Trading Standards’ advice

  • If damage is weather-related, speak to your insurance company first before agreeing to have work done. The company is likely to have a list of approved traders and may well want to instruct them to undertake any necessary repairs.
  • Do not agree to have work done by anyone who cold calls.
  • Ask friends and family for recommendations.
  • Try to get at least three quotes for work.
  • Make sure you know the trader’s name and address. If things go wrong, it is usually easier to arrange a repair or refund with a local trader.

Residents can report rogue traders or get advice from the Citizens Advice consumer service on 0808 223 1133.