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Salesman denies telling customer conservatory roof would collapse under heavy snowfall

Stephen Gedge and First Home Improvements are on trial at Ipswich Crown Court Picture: ARCHANT

Stephen Gedge and First Home Improvements are on trial at Ipswich Crown Court Picture: ARCHANT

A home improvement company salesman has denied deliberately misleading a customer into an order by telling him his conservatory roof would collapse under heavy snowfall.

Stephen Gedge strenuously denied the allegation that he lied to a man in his 70s and his wife about the state of their conservatory roof which led to the couple agreeing for it to be replaced.

A jury at Ipswich Crown Court heard how Gedge, a salesman for First Home Improvements, visited the couple's home in Blundeston in September 2017.

Gedge, 56, of Havant Close, Norwich, told the court he had developed a "good rapport" with the couple and "got on really well with them".

Five days after a meeting on September 30, the man agreed to have the conservatory roof replaced, Adam Pearson, prosecuting for Suffolk Trading Standards, told the jury.

Asked why that was, Gedge, who was worked for the company since 2008, said he believed the couple liked the look of the product and the price was right for them.

"I certainly did not say there was anything wrong with his roof," Gedge told the jury.

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The man was quoted £9,500 for the work but was allegedly told by Gedge the price would be reduced to £8,378 if he agreed to sign up there and then.

When the man changed his mind about having the work done the following week, he contacted Gedge who allegedly said he could not cancel the contract.

Mr Pearson said the man, who had survived a heart bypass and prostate cancer, was then reduced to tears after receiving an "aggressive" telephone call from Gedge telling him he would lose his £1,256 deposit.

Asked about the call, Gedge said: "I really like people, and I wouldn't do that to anybody."

A decision was subsequently made by First Home Improvements to allow the homeowner to cancel the contract but he was allegedly told that if he challenged the retention of his deposit the company reserved the right to charge him 25% of the order.

MORE: Salesman 'left householder in tears' in row over cancelled order, court hears

Gedge and First Home Improvements, of Lenwade, have each denied two offences of engaging in a commercial practice which was misleading, engaging in an unfair commercial practice and engaging in an aggressive commercial practice.

Gedge has also denied fraud and First Home Improvements has also denied a further offence of engaging in a commercial practice that was misleading.

Yesterday, the company and Gedge were each cleared of one of the offences of engaging in a misleading commercial practice after the trial judge ruled there was insufficient evidence against them.

The trial continues.

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