Has my neighbour been scammed?

Hannah Jolliffe / 04 September 2018

An elderly neighbour‘s been overcharged for gutter clearing - what can she do?



Question

My elderly neighbour lives alone and I think she’s been scammed. Some men knocked on her door and offered to clean her gutters and replace some missing tiles on the roof. They’ve done both jobs, but I think they’ve overcharged her. She has no details for them apart from their names and a mobile phone number – I’ve called and left voicemails but had no reply. What can she do?

Answer 

This isn’t a ‘scam’ as such, as your neighbour received the service to her gutters and roof that she agreed to and paid for. However, if the work was not carried out immediately and cost more than £170, the trader could be in breach of The Consumer (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013.



Helen Brown, head of dispute resolution at Slater Heelis LLP explains: ‘The trader has failed to provide, in writing, “the geographical address at which the trader is established and, where available, the trader’s telephone number, fax number and email address, to enable the consumer to contact the trader quickly and communicate efficiently”.’

The trader should also have provided details about the price up front and informed your neighbour of her right to cancel within 14 days. Breaches of the regulations are enforced by the Trading Standards department of your local council. If she thinks a fraud has been committed – the work was overpriced or substandard – she should contact Action Fraud or call them on 0300 123 2040.

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‘It is unlikely that reporting the matter will recoup any money for your neighbour – at best the trader will be fined,’ says Helen. ‘If you get the trader’s details you could bring a claim in the small claims court for the overcharged amount.’

Always ask for a trader’s phone number and registered address, and get a written quote before agreeing to work being done.

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The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.