Drop in bogus caller numbers hailed

TRADING Standards officials in Suffolk are winning the war against bogus traders with figures showing an almost 40% fall in the past 12 months.Data revealed by Suffolk Trading Standards shows the number of complaints fell from 131 in 2003-04 to 94 in 2004-05.

By Danielle Nuttall

TRADING Standards officials in Suffolk are winning the war against bogus traders with figures showing an almost 40% fall in the past 12 months.

Data revealed by Suffolk Trading Standards shows the number of complaints fell from 131 in 2003-04 to 94 in 2004-05.

The news comes just weeks after the organisation launched one its first prosecutions against a trader, who was fined £300 for breaking regulations.


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Tony Doorly, trading standards officer, said he was pleased by the apparent reduction in bogus trader activity, but said the organisation still had more work to do and would not become complacent.

"If figures are slightly reducing we are please but are not complacent. There's still a big job to do and we need to keep reinforcing the message and make Suffolk and uncomfortable place for these traders," he said.

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"Ultimately the number of calls we get hopefully will reduce. It's about making people aware they are in control and if someone calls at their house there are steps that should be taken.

"It could be the message is getting across but it also could be we need to get a stronger message across to people."

Bogus traders typically turn up at properties unannounced, offering to carry out work - sometimes unnecessary - for what is often an extortionate price.

Often the work is shoddy or uncompleted and not worth the amount being asked.

In March, trading standards officials successfully prosecuted gardener Shane Booth, who pleaded guilty at Ipswich Magistrates' Court to failing to notify a customer in writing of their right to cancel a contract within seven days.

The 29-year-old, of West Meadow Caravan Site, Ipswich, had been in Woodbridge in August last year when he had gone to the home of a 92-year-old woman to ask if she wanted any gardening work done, the court heard.

The pensioner agreed for him to do some work and the pair made a verbal agreement for a fee of £160 to be paid on completion of the work.

But the lady, who suffers from short-term memory loss, did not remember agreeing to the sum and offered £20 for the three days' work.

As a result Booth took the woman to Barclays Bank in Woodbridge to withdraw the money where staff became suspicious and phoned the police.

Mr Doorly said: "The court case was a typical scenario where somebody called at a house unannounced and the person was not aware of the final price and when it came it was a lot more than expected.

"If we can get evidence against them we will prosecute. It's something they need to be aware of. "Anyone doing that work needs to ensure they are completely within the legal requirements and that case is a strong message we will take action if necessary."

The fall in bogus caller cases comes after the East Anglian Daily Times ran a successful Safe in Your Home Campaign, warning people of the dangers and offering advice to homeowners at risk of being targeted by doorstep conmen.

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