Watch out for rogue traders now the flood cleanup begins

Simon Geraghty stands near floodwater in Upton Published Tuesday, 10th March 2020

The river levels across Worcestershire are now receding, we’re into the recovery stage and the clean-up operation for many has begun.

Worcestershire County Council’s Trading Standards Officers are warning residents rogue traders could use the floods as an opportunity to make some serious money for themselves. They offer to help, but in reality make matters worse.

Rogue traders often carry out poor-quality work, sometimes taking money for materials and then disappearing without doing any work at all.

Councillor Lucy Hodgson, Worcestershire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Communities said:

“We are encouraging homeowners to be on their guard against less reputable traders who may take advantage of any damage caused by the storms and flooding by trying to convince homeowners to pay for unnecessary or over-priced repair work.

Whilst it can be tempting to employ the first person who comes to your door offering to fix that damaged fence or lost roof tiles, it can be hard to tell a good trader from a rogue on the doorstep, so trading standards are advising residents not to buy at the door and instead seek a range of quotes from reputable traders.”

Rogue Traders may quote low prices, but they will soon demand more money and very often the work they claim needs doing is completely unnecessary.

Homeowners are advised to ignore doorstep cold callers and instead first check with their insurance company whether they are covered for repairs, since some policies include emergency assistance support.

Most insurance companies will appoint their own tradespeople to carry out the work.

For those who are not covered by insurance for any repairs, they can find a reliable trader through various trader approval schemes like CheckaTrade, with which Worcestershire’s Trading Standards team has been working, or other schemes like Buy With Confidence.

The Worcestershire Trading Standards team have created a list of top tips to help you avoid rogue traders, their advice includes:

  • Go on recommendations and use traders that family or friends have been happy with. If that’s not possible, consider using a vetted and approved trader.
  • If your home has experienced structural damage you need a qualified surveyor to tell you what the actual damage is; never rely on the word of a builder alone.
  • Ensure the business has a genuine address – find out how long they have been there for. If you find lots of businesses at the same address, that can be a warning sign.
  • Ask to see examples of their work and verify it with the householder.
  • Get everything written down – don’t rely on spoken agreements.
  • Be wary of any trader who can start work quickly or straight away. You can expect to wait several weeks, even months for a good builder to start work.