Advice for home owners when employing traders after complaints about Wigan plumber
Wigan home owners are being urged to check feedback from other customers before employing traders to carry out work.
Several residents revealed this week they lost thousands of pounds after hiring plumber Adam Cottom, trading as ACPS Plumbing Services, to do work on their properties.
They said he took money from them and either did not carry out the project or did a poor job, leaving them to go elsewhere for their work.
Mr Cottom, who has since been declared bankrupt, declined to comment when contacted by Wigan Today.
Wigan Council's trading standards team has now issued advice for all home owners who are considering employing a trader.
A spokesman said: "Our advice is to use our popular Good Trader Scheme for peace of mind. We have over 180 reputable local traders that have been vetted by trading standards and customer feedback is monitored to ensure customers receive good service."
Further tips for home owners include:
- Always avoid using traders who call uninvited to your home.
- Ask for a business card or paperwork to show their address and say you will think about it before agreeing.
- Never feel obliged to pay by cash. A genuine business will accept a cheque and should provide an invoice.
- Mention any suspicious callers to a family member or friend and report the matter to trading standards 0808 223 1133.
Similar advice has recently been issued by Lancashire County Council's trading standards team, after a number of customers were left out of pocket when a construction firm went bust.
Chris Wilkinson, the county council’s trading standards manager, said: “Don’t pay upfront before the job starts. If you are considering a large project, agree a payment schedule of staged payments. If it is a smaller job, agree to pay on completion. But only pay if work is progressing well and is done to the standards you require.
“Reputable builders are likely to be buying their materials through an account from a builders merchants so immediate demands for payment shouldn’t be necessary. You could also consider paying some of the cost using a credit card for additional payment protection from the credit provider.”
If you are unhappy with the work as it is progressing, there are measures that he suggested can be taken.
He said: “Do not pay any more money until the issues are resolved. Talk to the trader.
“When you enter into a contract for goods and services, you can expect these to be supplied with reasonable care and skill and materials to be of satisfactory quality. Try and agree how the issues can be resolved and by when. Take photos highlighting the issues if you can and keep a record of your conversations and phone calls and what is agreed. Always follow up your complaint in writing. If problems still persist you can get further advice from the Citizens Advice Consumer Service – freephone 0808 223 1133
“Give the business an opportunity to put things right. If problems persist, you might need to consider getting alternative quotes for remedial work or get an opinion from an expert on the cause of the problem. Knowing this information might assist in helping to find a resolution.
“If this still doesn’t work, you will need to consider taking legal action through the small claims court. Resolving the dispute and going to mediation might be an option, but not in every case.”
Mr Wilkinson gave further advice for if your builder disappears without finishing the work or goes into liquidation.
He said: “Hopefully, if you have paid in instalments, you will only have paid for the materials and workmanship complete to date.
“Firstly, try to contact the trader to find out what has happened. Always put your complaint in writing, sent to their last known address. and set out how and when you want the issue to be resolved by. If they are members of a professional trade association, there may be insurance backed guarantees you can rely on.
“If you paid by credit card for any amount over £100, you may be able to claim against your credit card provider. If the business is a sole trader and has gone bankrupt, you may be able to register with the official receiver to reclaim any deposit you have paid. This will take time to resolve and any amount recovered might be significantly less than your deposit paid. If the business is a limited company, there may be options available through company administrators but these would have to be considered on a case by case basis.
“Always seek advice from the Citizens Advice Consumer Service as early as possible. if they suspect that a criminal offence may have been committed, they may refer the details to trading standards.”
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