Beware of bogus cold callers this Christmas

Aberdeen City Council’s Trading Standards team is warning residents to be aware of bogus cold callers this Christmas following a spate of incidents in recent weeks.

There have been reports of fraudsters targeting households across the city using a variety of sales pitches to get people to agree to have work done.Only deal with local firms with genuine addresses do not deal with anyone who does not give a business address.

Recently, bogus callers have offered to replace loose roof tiles caused by the recent high winds and bad weather. They initially quote a low price then increase the cost upon closer inspection of the roof, claiming to have found further problems.

One elderly lady was first quoted a few hundred pounds but the bogus workmen kept finding more faults and the price increased to £12,000. A man in Milltimber replied to a flyer posted through the door and was initially quoted £2,000 for work but this rose to £6,000. A third was quoted £3,000 but ended up paying £7,000. He was given a 10 year guarantee but soon after the builders left discovered two leaks.

Aberdeen City Council Trading Standards team leader, Graeme Paton said: “Once these workmen are on the roof, some tell owners that there are other problems which will cost even more. This extra work is costing thousands of pounds.

“People need to be very careful about workmen visiting them like this. Some of these characters are very clever. They worry the homeowner, especially the vulnerable and the elderly, with all kinds of stories of sometimes non-existent or grossly exaggerated problems. Very often, any information provided by the workmen, such as names, addresses, and telephone numbers are false, making them very hard to trace. Nothing is given in writing.”

The council’s Trading Standards team advises that residents take the following steps if they are considering having work done on their property:

Do not be forced into making a quick decision on the doorstep;

Fix a price and be specific about what you want done. Make sure you have everything in writing and do not rely on verbal agreements. Anyone who signs a contract on the doorstep has seven days to cancel;

Ask for a written quotation and if additional work is required ask that they give a new quote;

Only deal with local firms with genuine addresses do not deal with anyone who does not give a business address;

Just because a telephone number has an 01224 dialling code does not necessarily mean that they are from Aberdeen. Beware of companies that only use mobile phone or 0800 numbers;

Check all contact details before agreeing to have any work done;

If you are at all unsure, say no.

Anyone who seeks further advice can contact the Trading Standards team via the Consumer Direct Advice line on 08454 040506.