News item

Householders warned about rogue tree surgeons

Recent bad weather has seen rogue tree surgeons taking advantage of vulnerable customers worried that high winds could bring down trees, causing injury and damage to property. 
 
Croydon’s trading standards team, after learning of an elderly victim who fell foul of one company’s sharp practice, is warning residents to be aware of the possibility of contractors acting unscrupulously.
 
A 73-year-old Selsdon woman, concerned about a tree on her property, responded to a flyer left at her address. She called the company and asked for an estimate for the removal of a small tree.
 
When tree surgeons arrived at her home, they refused to quote a price but proceeded to cut down and remove the tree before demanding she pay a fee of £1,200 in cash, saying payment by cheque was not acceptable. The work had taken less than two hours to complete.
 
Shocked and intimidated by the demand for cash, she told the contractor that she did not keep such sums in the house. His immediate response was to tell her that he would take her to her building society in order that she could withdraw the cash.
 
On hearing the details of the transaction, the building society cashier advised her to report the matter to trading standards.
 
Councillor Simon Hoar, cabinet member for community safety, said: “Sadly, there are contractors and traders out there who are all too willing to rapidly take advantage of any situation, such as the high rainfall and gale-force winds we’ve been experiencing of late.
 
“Before employing a contractor to carry out any work, it’s always advisable to get more than one estimate for the work needed. Ideally, three quotes should be obtained from reputable traders, and the best place to find a list of reputable traders is on the TrustMark website.”
 
TrustMark – www.trustmark.org.uk – provides consumers with an impartial assessment of local tradespeople operating to government-endorsed standards.
DATE: 09 January 2014