How To Spot a Rogue Trader?

How To Spot a Rogue Trader?

Times are hard. And when times are hard some people are tempted to bend the rules or even break them. There are always rogue traders around but the tough economic conditions means that dishonest tradespeople in a weak position may become what we term a 'rogue' trader. In the domestic services world a rogue trader may also be called a cowboy builder, a cowboy or a scam artist. What they really are is a criminal. Now not every tradesman is a criminal, of course. Even if they do some of the things on our list below. But I'm trying to show you how to minimise your risk of employing one. So make sure that you are not taken in by one of these people by following the simple guidelines below.

Do Some Checks

If you are looking to get any work done, check out the individual or company you are intending to employ.

  • Do they have a website?
  • Do they have a land line telephone number?
  • Do they have a VAT number?
  • Do they have an office address?
  • Does anyone answer the telephone when you call them?

If you can't answer 'yes' to any of these questions then do not employ this person or company. Yes, OK it may very well be that you have got hold of an honest guy who is just starting out. They don't have a website, a land line telephone, an office and are not registered for VAT. So what? Let someone else give them their first job. In order to mimimise your risk, just employ an established business.

If someone offers not to charge VAT - walk away. If you pay cash for everything and they run off with your money - how do you prove that you ever paid him? If a company or individual is willing to rip off HMRC - the biggest gangsters in town - they won't think twice about ripping off the small fry - like you and I!

Look out for door knockers

Never employ anyone who knocks at the door. It doesn't matter what they say - and they will say things like this:

  • 'Do you know you have loose tiles on your roof?' - your response is 'No, thanks'
  • 'Do you know you have cracked brickwork on your the front of your house?' - your response is 'No thanks'
  • 'Do you know you need some re-pointing on..?' - your response is 'No, thanks'
  • 'You need some work doing on your driveway' - - your response is 'No, thanks'
  • We're doing some work in the area and have materials left over which we need to use up' - your response is 'No, thanks'
  • We're doing some work for the council down the road' - your response is 'Really, can I take your contractor number and give them a call?'

Roof repairs, tree surgery services, driveway work, damp proofing and gutter repairs are the services most often offered at the door and most susceptible to the average crook. Mostly because you can't see what's going on as it normally takes place on a roof or up a tree.

  • Never employ anyone who smokes while you're speaking to them. Would you smoke in an interview?
  • Never employ anyone who smells of alcohol. They won't turn up for work and if they do they will probably be nursing a hangover. Do you do your best work with a hangover?
  • Never employ someone who is over familiar. This is a good warning sign of someone who has no respect for his clients.
  • Never employ anyone who makes you feel uncomfortable.
  • Never employ anyone who you don't think is trustworthy. Your first instinct is usually the right one in this respect. If you don't trust the person instantly he is probably a crook. Walk away.

Keep these points in mind and you won't go far wrong!

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