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Workmen To Face Secret Repair Tests

Workmen who cut corners, or who invent faults to make money while repairing household appliances could be walking into a trap set by Warwickshire trading standards officers.

Council staff will be posing as ordinary members of the public waiting to have their ‘broken’ appliances fixed.

And those chosen to take part in the tests will be those repairmen who have been reported by unsatisfied customers to Warwickshire trading standards.

With complaints about home maintenance, repairs and improvements now topping the Office Of Fair Trading national complaints list, trading standards officers are determined to deal with traders who mislead consumers by carrying out overpriced and unnecessary work.

The traders will be invited to repair gas and large electrical appliances that have been given simple faults.

  • complaints about unscrupulous workmen have included:

  • taking as long as possible to complete a quick job when charging by the hour, removing parts that are working perfectly and charging for new ones,

  • 'finding' many more problems that actually exist sometimes leading to the replacement of the whole appliance.

Cllr John Haynes, portfolio holder for community services, said:

"Traders who attempt to mislead consumers by making a repair job more complicated and costly than it should be are disadvantaging consumers and reputable businesses."

Noel Hunter, director of Warwickshire Trading Standards, added:

"Last year in Warwickshire, the trading standards service received 891 complaints about home maintenance, repair and improvement companies, the second highest complaint category after second-hand cars, highlighting the need for an enforcement survey of this kind."

The project will run until the end of the year when the results will be announced.

The latest OFT figures available show complaints concerning home maintenance, repair and improvements totalled 18, 670 in the last three months alone across the country.

Warwickshire trading standards asked us to pass on this advice to consumers:

  • Do not simply pick the first repairman out of the telephone directory as soon as something goes wrong,

  • If you can, get at least three quotes from local, well established, reputable traders with reputations to protect,

  • consider people who have been personally recommended or that you have used previously and have been happy with (and keep their telephone numbers to hand for future emergencies).

  • come repair companies charge by the hour, so ensure you know how much the job will cost before employing them.

For more information call trading standards on 01926 414000.

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CWN / Politics / Warwickshire County Council / 18 Aug 00

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