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Be wary of cold calling roofers 11 February 2008

The Isle of Man Office of Fair Trading is warning consumers to be wary of using traders who call at their homes without an appointment. The Office has received a number of complaints recently about roofers who call at consumers’ doors and tell them that they have missing slates or other roof damage and that they can carry out repairs immediately. The complaints relate to the quality of the work carried out. In most of the recent cases the roofers are not local and use vehicles with UK registration plates. It is generally easier to resolve problems with local traders than with traders who do not have a permanent base here but this is not always the case as local cowboy builders who cold call can also be difficult to track down.

At this time of the year, with storms and frequent high winds, consumers do get concerned about roof damage. Good building firms and roofers are very busy and may not be able to respond right away. Waiting for them may be a better option however than using these cold callers who can leave your roof in a worst state than when they found it – if indeed there was any damage in the first place.

Here is Chief Trading Standards Officer, John Peet’s advice on ensuring that you are not "ripped off" on building work:-

Do not agree to anything without knowing exactly what you are agreeing to:-

  • ask for written quotations or statements of the exact cost of the goods or services (remember quotes cannot be altered by the trader but estimates are just that - a quotation for £500 of work cannot later be charged at £600 but an estimate of £500 can);
  • find out who you are dealing with - obtain details of the company or individuals;
  • don’t disclose financial details such as your bank account number, PIN number (Personal Identification Number) or other account or credit card details before satisfying yourself that the company or individual is legitimate;
  • do not make payments in advance, say for material or other costs;
  • obtain other quotations or make enquiries of other traders before you make any commitment.

For higher value transactions such as major building work you should find out what relevant qualification or experience the trader has. You should also ask for references from other customers and confirm the trader’s membership of any trade body with the organisation itself.

Chairman of the Office of Fair Trading Quintin Gill MHK commented “It is easy for us to be panicked into thinking we need work done urgently but it is better to give yourself time to think before agreeing to anything. These roofers may seem to offer a quick and cheap service but as some people have found the quality of work is very low. Remember – if it looks too good to be true than it probably is”.

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