Trading standards officers in Leicester are warning residents to stay alert following reports or two types of cold callers offering bogus or substandard services to householders.
Officers have received complaints about cold callers, who falsely claim to be from the city council, offering people grants for free or subsidised boiler supplies. Often the fraudsters are carrying no identification, paperwork or contact details, and are not taking any COVID-19 safety measures, such as wearing a face covering, to protect householders.
One resident paid a £400 deposit for a free boiler, but the trader gave a false address and website, leaving the customer unable to get a refund.
In addition, a number of people in the Beaumont Leys and Anstey Heights areas have complained about cold callers offering roofing services door to door.
In cases where work has been carried out, it has been to a poor standard and described as dangerous by subsequent workers who carried out work to put it right. Paperwork does not comply with the law and no address of the trader has been provided.
Leicester City Council’s trading standards service manager, Ron Ruddock, said: “Many of the complaints we receive concern home improvement work, which is often expensive and carried out to the most valuable asset that people will own.
“It is therefore important to choose wisely and not be talked into work that may not be necessary, may be poor quality or even dangerous.
“Cold calling isn’t illegal, but frequently cold callers leave false names and addresses and do not complete work or return to remedy faulty work.
“We would urge people not to do business with anyone who approaches you at the door or in the street. Always get quotes and recommendation and make checks on the trader yourself.
“Never pay large amounts of money up front and make sure you have a written contract and the full name and address of the trader you are dealing with. Customers are also entitled to receive a written contract and details of their right to change their mind and cancel the contract.“
Some grants for home improvements and heating are available, and details are available from the Energy Saving Advice Service on 0300 123 1234, or by calling your energy supplier.
Mr Ruddock added: “In order to avoid falling prey to scams and rogue traders we’d advise residents not to do any business at the doorstep, and report unwanted callers to the Citizens Advice Consumer Service.”
Advice on how to find an approved workman or woman is also available from Citizens Advice or by ringing 0808 223 1133.