Avoiding the Cowboys

It’s the season of good will, but unfortunately not everybody has good intentions! Dishonest tradespeople can cause misery to many people with problems ranging from not completing work, to completing work to a very poor standard. Make sure you don’t fall victim to rouge traders this Christmas. By reading our tips below you should be better prepared to spot some of the signs of a dishonest tradesperson.


Be careful of really cheap quotes

If something seems too good to be true, it probably is. We all know this popular saying and this is a perfect example. Be cautious of really cheap quotes. Whilst a cheap quote may be really tempting, it may lead to problems down the line such as poor quality work and materials or additional unexpected costs added later on!

Whilst Christmas can be a very expensive time and everyone is watching the pennies it’s really important not to choose a tradesperson just based on the price alone.  Ask for job references and do your research. Ask other people such as friends and family if they have used the tradesperson before, read reviews and try to build a better understanding before rushing into anything! Find out exactly what work will be carried out for the price and an estimated timeframe for the work. Give yourself choice – make sure that you get more than one quote and don’t just settle on the first one you receive.


Do your research

It is really important to do your research. Don’t let an unreliable and inexperienced tradesperson ruin your Christmas! Ask the tradesperson for job references. If they are unwilling to provide these alarm bells should start ringing.

A reliable and experienced tradesperson is likely to have plenty of good examples of work which they have completed and are willing to share with you. Always make sure that you follow up these references to check that they are genuine. References and photos of past work will give you an idea of the quality of work you might expect.

Don’t just rely on reviews or testimonials which are found on the tradesperson’s website – these might not always be reliable.

Be cautious if asked for cash up front

Always be cautious if you are asked for cash up front. Paying for a job before it’s even started could be a very costly mistake. You should only pay for the work carried out once it is completed.

Make sure that quotes, details of work to be completed and an estimated time frame for the work are put into writing before agreeing to anything.

Some tradespeople may ask for cash only, this could be a possible indicator they are trying to avoid paying VAT. Paying in cash also gives you very little protection if anything does go wrong.


Check contact details

It’s important to look out for a registered business address and landline telephone number when deciding which tradesperson to choose. Make sure that the company has a registered business address so that if you do have any problems along the way you know where to contact!

Ask important questions

Making sure that you and the tradesperson are both on the same page when discussing what work will be carried out and for what cost is really important. Don’t be afraid to ask questions to make sure you know what you’re getting for your money.

Asking questions can help you avoid any unexpected extra costs along the way, set an agreed time frame for the work that you are both happy with.

Verify information

If a tradesperson is claiming to be part of a trade association then always check to make sure this is true. Unfortunately, this information isn’t always true and can mislead the customer. Misleading information can sometimes be a sign of a dishonest tradesperson!  Checking if the tradesperson is a member of the trade association they claim to be part of can be done by asking the tradesperson to present a certificate or card. If they are unable to then try check with the trade association directly.

Use these tips to help you make an informed choice next time you’re looking for a local tradesperson.  To help you get started you can find  plumbers, gas fitters, central heating installers and locksmiths in your local area if you need assistance this Christmas.

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