Lancashire pensioner's 'heartbreak' at eye-watering cold caller charges for driveway jet wash
A Lancashire woman has told of her anger after cold callers handed her elderly father a £3,500 bill for jet washing his driveway and tidying his small garden.
Two men who appeared at the 84-year-old’s door in South Ribble last week initially quoted £7,000 for the job - and then halved the price when he said he could not afford the extortionate sum.
Faye McGowan said that her dad Kenneth (not their real names) had been left “upset and shaken” by the incident.
He agreed to the lower amount and the traders carried out the work over the course of several hours. But they got more than they bargained for after being confronted by trading standards officers when they returned to collect their money. An investigation by the department is now under way.
“He was heartbroken about it all – and it’s not like my Dad to have accepted the quote, because he usually tells anybody offering to do work that he will speak to me about it first.
“But at a time when everybody is stressed and not really sure what’s happening, these people have picked up on that with my Dad and taken advantage.
“They are preying on vulnerable people and gave him no time even to think about what he had agreed to – they turned up one day and did the job the next,” said Faye.
Kenneth eventually paid £350 for the work – 95 percent less than the price he was originally quoted.
While his experience was not directly connected to the coronavirus outbreak, Lancashire County Council’s trading standards have warned of a recent spate of incidents involving rogue traders and scammers trying to cash in on the crisis.
Door-to-door salespeople in the county have been reported offering home-testing kits to diagnose the disease. But no such kits are currently on general sale in the UK – meaning the items must be fake and risk undermining the battle against the virus by misleading people about whether they have been infected.
Parents are also being contacted and asked to provide bank details in order to retain their children’s entitlement to free school meals during the current lockdown. County Hall says that any such approaches should be refused and reported to the authority.
Meanwhile, police have received reports of cold callers selling hand sanitiser, masks and rubber gloves. Although they are unable to prove whether or not these products meet the required standards, trading standards officers recommend that they are bought only from recognised retailers.
County Cllr Albert Atkinson, cabinet member for technical services, rural affairs and waste management, said that the recent reports showed that there was “no limit to the lengths fraudsters will go in order to con people out of their money”.
"Unfortunately, they are taking advantage of the coronavirus outbreak to scam vulnerable people.
"We're doing everything we can to make people aware of these scams as they are reported. I'd urge people to be particularly vigilant at the moment and keep a look out for their neighbours.
"Always say no to cold callers - and and be suspicious of any unsolicited communications via phone, email or post.
“Suspicious websites and fake emails are also being used to spread scams around. Don't act on the emails if you don't know the sender or think the email looks suspicious – and never click on the link.
"Please check with trading standards if you are unsure."
Lancashire trading standards can be contacted via the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 0808 2231133 or via www.citizensadvice.org.uk/consumer/get-more-help/report-to-trading-standards
Lancashire County Council's Safe Trader Scheme can help you find a trader in your area - contact them on 0303 333 1111 or go to www.safetrader.org.uk.
Follow the Scambuster Stan Facebook page to keep up-to-date with all the latest scam alerts: www.facebook.com/StanleyDards