15th Nov, 2019

Rogue traders prosecuted after attempting to charge pensioner £25,000 for unnecessary work

Ian Hughes 1st Feb, 2019

ROGUE traders who attempted to charge a Leamington pensioner over £25,000 for unnecessary work have been prosecuted.

Jack Burton, who trades as Bournemouth-based Roofwise/Jack Burton Property Services Ltd visited the 86-year-old’s home and convinced her to purchase foam loft insulation – despite her loft being adequately insulated.

She also agreed to pay for other work including roof tile and panel cleaning.

She was told the work would cost her £18,500 but no breakdown of the price was given.

Despite having been sent a letter by Warwickshire Trading Standards giving him advice about the cancellation rights of consumers just days before, the trader did not give the woman any information about her right to cancel the contract within 14 days, and the work was set to be carried out the next day.

The incident came to light after the victim visited her building society to withdraw half the cost – £9,250 – but was stopped from doing so by quick thinking staff. They then contacted trading standards which launched an investigation.

Trading standards supported the victim and a Harassment Notice was issued making it a criminal offence for Burton to return to the property.

Three days later, another Bournemouth trader Stuart High, trading as Off Grid Renewables Ltd also visited the woman’s home. High attempted to sell the householder foam loft insulation and a new battery for solar panels fitted to the resident’s property.

He attempted to charge her £6,900 for the work without giving the consumer any explanation of how the price was calculated or what the benefit would be in terms of energy savings.

But trading standards Officers again stepped in and no money was paid.

At Leamington Magistrates Court Burton, aged 27, of Cranleigh Road, Bournemouth, pleaded guilty to two consumer protection. At a sentencing hearing he was fined, ordered to pay costs and a victim surcharge totalling £8,240.

Burton did not attend court, was not represented, and no mitigation was offered.

At an earlier hearing, Stuart High, aged 32, of Holderhurst Road, Bournemouth, pleaded guilty to two consumer protection offences and was ordered to pay a total of £2,910.

In mitigation, his solicitor said the case should not be treated as one in which his client was seeking to rip off an elderly woman and the allegations related to paperwork. He further stated High had done a lot of other good work and had not had complaints.

Warwickshire community safety spokesman Coun Andy Crump said: “Our trading standards service works tirelessly to support elderly and vulnerable people across the county, preventing them from being misled by unscrupulous traders and paying for overpriced and unnecessary work.”

“I’m delighted that this case came to light thanks to the vigilance of a building society. Through the banking protocol bank and building society staff are helping to identify victims of high pressure sales people and alert police and trading standards.

“I’m pleased that this protocol is working well here in Warwickshire as we seek to protect our elderly and vulnerable residents.”

* Report rogue traders and high pressure sales people to Warwickshire Trading Standards via the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 03454 040506.

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