Sutton’s police and the council’s Trading Standards officers have issued an alert to borough residents about traders who turn up unexpectedly on their doorstep asking to do gardening and building work.
The advice follows another leaflet drop in Sutton offering tree, lawn and other gardening services with special discounts for older people. Similar-looking leaflets have been reported to trading standards officers all over the south of England.
In January police offered advice when they learnt that flyers were about to be distributed advertising building services such as roofing, guttering and tarmac work.
While the vast majority of building and gardening companies are genuine, the Police and Sutton Council Trading Standards are urging residents who want work carried out to ask for identification and written quotes, and to carry out checks on any companies who approach them by obtaining references from previous customers before agreeing to any work and parting with any money.
Most reputable companies will be happy to supply such information.
In particular, residents need to be wary of traders who turn up asking for cash upfront because they may not return to complete the work or even start it.
Police advice to residents is not to let any unknown callers into home and not to give them any money in advance of any work.
Cllr Nick Emmerson, Liberal Democrat Lead Councillor for Trading Standards in Sutton, said: “With Spring around the corner, residents are starting to think about the outdoor work they need done on their homes and gardens. When considering employing a tradesperson we strongly advise Sutton residents to look at the council’s Safer Sutton Trader Scheme List so as to avoid bogus builders and unscrupulous traders. This list has been vetted by Sutton Council Trading Standards and offers a range of local professional tradespeople.
“When considering employing a tradesperson they should be wary of unsolicited leaflets received through their letterboxes, and of people turning up uninvited on their doorsteps.
“Residents should always get several quotes before agreeing to employ a tradesperson and remember that they should expect to receive a cancellation notice from the trader and that they have the opportunity to cancel a contract within 14 days if it is made at home.”
For advice on rogue traders, contact Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 03454 04 05 06. For their guide on ‘How to spot a cowboy builder’ visit their website guide here.
Anyone who has suspicions about someone calling at their door should shut the door to keep them outside, and call police on 999. It would be especially helpful if residents could check safely whether the caller has a vehicle in the street and to take the vehicle’s registration number. Police would rather come out and check that everything is above board, than to find someone who has become a victim of crime.