Knock knock, who’s there?

Bogus callers? Door-knockers? Cowboy builders?

Whatever you call them they are bad news. Merton Trading Standards team are warning all residents to be wary of all traders or people that simply knock on doors uninvited. Some of them may be genuine but it is an unfortunate fact in today’s society that the majority are not, despite how nice they initially appear.

It is often the more vulnerable sectors of the community that are targeted. In a recent incident reported to Merton Trading Standards, Mrs X let men into her home and was pressurised into agreeing to work on her roof. It is likely that much of this work was not needed but Mrs X being an older resident was unable to check for herself. The final charge made to her was in excess of £15,000.

Ian Murrell, 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.”

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.

Here are some useful points to remember when you receive a knock at the door:

· You should 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-paym