Cornwall Trading Standards is issuing fresh advice to householders following a report of suspect tree surgeons and the arrest of a man who used aggressive sales tactics and tried to overcharge a lady in Hayle.
In Newquay, the "so called tree surgeons" cold called at a property and quoted £140 for work on a tree which was then hastily reduced to £40 when the resident stated she was unable to pay. The resident described the state of the tree as “hacked to pieces” when the men left.
The men did not provide the resident with the required paperwork nor with her legally required 14 day cooling off period.
In another unrelated incident, a man was arrested in Hayle last week following a report of bogus landscaping work.
Devon and Cornwall Police were alerted to two men carrying out work at a property in Hayle. The men, who are believed to work throughout Cornwall, quoted over £3,000 to lay gravel and fix a door at the home of an elderly female.
The vast overcharge and aggressive sales tactics used resulted in an arrest and one of the men was later interviewed by Cornwall Trading Standards and bailed whilst investigations continue.
Trading Standards urge everyone to be on their guard when it comes to traders knocking on your door trying to gain work. Residents should always obtain several quotes for work and should never part with cash on the doorstep.
Allan Hampshire, Cornwall Council’s head of public protection urged home-owners to be on their guard: “Cornwall seems to be particularly targeted by every fraudster, con-man, scammer and doorstep criminal at the moment. As much as my officers are trying to catch these crooks and bring them to account we are keen to ensure that no-one else becomes a victim.
"Our advice is simple; NEVER deal with anyone who turns up at your door without an appointment; NEVER pay money to anyone who calls you on the phone. If you do need work doing on your home, always obtain more than one quote and only deal with firms you know.”
There are a number of consumer protection laws that Cornwall Trading Standards can enforce. These include your right to cancel a contract, misrepresentations made by traders and membership or endorsements by trade bodies.
If you agree a contract in your home, you must be given a written cancellation notice detailing a 14 day cooling off period in which you can cancel the contract.
If a trader does not give you a cancellation notice they have committed a criminal offence.
If you want the work to start within the 14 day cooling off period then you have to give the trader written permission.
If you are not given a cancellation notice then you may not have to pay for the work that was done.
If anyone has any concerns they should contact Cornwall Council Trading Standards on 0300 1234 19, contact Devon and Cornwall Police on 101 or in an emergency dial 999 and speak to the Police.