Wales Heads of Trading Standards

Improving Trading Standards in Wales

Penaethiaid Safonau Masnach Cymru Yn Gwella Safonau Masnach Yng Nghymru

Case Studies

Real life story

Police, family, friends and neighbours – we all have a role to play in reducing doorstep crime. It doesn't just affect individuals. It can affect whole communities.

The resident's story

A man called at my door as he was doing some work in the area and he noticed that my driveway could do with some repairs. He was friendly, convincing and quoted me a price of £1800 which seemed reasonable.

As my old driveway was being lifted, I was told that there was a problem with the foundation base due to soft earth. The cost of remedying this would now be £4000 and he demanded the payment in cash. I felt that I had no option but to pay him because I was in an impossible position. Owing to my age and health problems I needed easy access to my house which I couldn't do as my driveway was an absolute mess.

However, the trader didn't complete the remedying work himself. And he was supposed to pay another contractor, but didn't. So they then came around to my house demanding the £4000 which I'd already paid the trader. The whole thing was very stressful and had got completely out of hand. I didn't know what to do, so I contacted the Local Council. The people there were brilliant. They understood my predicament and quickly got on the case. I can't thank the Scambuster's team enough.

Scambusters' story

The Scambuster Wales Team, established by Wales Heads of Trading Standards, is comprised of dedicated Trading Standards Officers and experienced ex Police Officers, who work alongside officers from the Police, HM Revenue & Customs and other enforcement agencies. They work across local authority boundaries focusing on the hardest to tackle scams and rogue traders that set out to rip people off.

The team first got involved when a local authority called us. A member of the public had got in touch with them regarding some work that had been carried out by an unsolicited doorstep caller. They were very distressed as the job had cost them much more than had been originally quoted.

This was definitely a case of fraud as although the trader agreed a contract price for a bricked driveway to be installed at the home, the consumer did not receive cancellation rights at the time of the quotation. Also, during the works the price was increased unnecessarily in an attempt to deceive the consumer and obtain a higher price for the work.

As we investigated the case, our enquiries soon uncovered a number of similar offences by the same trader in the immediate area. So, the local authority launched an official enquiry to establish whether offences had been made regarding unfair trading, the failure to disclose information, the cancellation of contracts and business names.

Many traders target people who are elderly or in poor health as they often can't attend court to give evidence. And this was the case here. However, we address this problem by either arranging a live video link to Court or presenting pre-recorded video.

We amassed a lot of evidence from other residents who had had problems with the trader who was promptly interviewed and summoned. The trader received a fine of several thousand pounds for committing a number of offences in the local area.