Knock Knock, who’s there?

Beware of cowboy builders who are door knocking Merton residents for work, warns Merton Council, who are offering residents tips following a number of complaints.

Residents should be wary of all traders or people that simply knock on doors uninvited. Although some of them may be genuine the majority are not, despite how nice they initially appear. Unfortunately it is often the more vulnerable sectors of the community that are targeted.

Merton Council advise residents to remember the following useful points when hearing a knock at the door:
· Do not feel obliged to let anybody into your home
Ask to see their authorisation and telephone the company to check the details. The number listed for the company in the telephone book should be used instead of any number the trader provides. If you have a chain on your front door, keep it across the door until you are satisfied that the caller is bona fide.
· Do not feel pressured into having any work done
Statements such as “I saw you had a few slates missing from your roof” may well be true but it is better to get a second opinion. Give yourself time to think over any work and obtain quotes from several companies before deciding. Never let the trader start work straight away, you need time to think.
· Check any association claims e.g. Federation of Master Builders; Guild of Master Craftsmen, the trader makes
Obtain the membership number from the trader.
· Obtain a written quote/estimate from the trader before any work is undertaken
Ask for the costs to be broken down clearly.
· Do not feel pressured into making large pre-payments
· Do not feel pressured into paying by cash and NEVER accompany a trader to your bank to withdraw cash
· Ensure that paperwork is provided by the trader with details his name or business name, and trading address. Try to check the address.

Although the bogus traders may be committing offences, it is often impossible for both the Police and Trading Standards to take action because the trader cannot be traced. Very few bogus traders supply name and address details or issue any form of paperwork and will usually only accept cash payment.

Ian Murrell, Merton Council’s Commercial and Trading Standards Manager said, “Bogus tradesmen often target elderly members of our community and can pressure residents into agreeing to work being carried out. The work is often not necessary but residents can feel intimidated and agree to the work. Some of them even escort the resident to the bank so that they can obtain cash payments.”