Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Watch out for paving contract scam

South Gloucestershire trading standards is urging local residents to be very careful signing home improvement contracts when dealing with doorstep salespeople.

Legally you are entitled to a seven-day cooling off period after signing a contract with a door-step trader. During that time you can back out of the agreement with no consequences. However, several block paving businesses which operate in the region are suspected to be routinely back-dating contracts when they are signed by customers, preventing them from exercising their right to back out.

The workmen then turn up at the customer's property, usually when they are not at home, and start digging up the driveway. When the customer complains, the business may refer them to the contract which makes it look as if it was signed over a month ago.

It is a criminal offence for doorstep traders not to give customers a written notice of their right to cancel the agreement within seven days of signing it, but this may be waived by the customer only if they sign to say that work can start immediately. Most block paving businesses give such written notice, but some use the tactic of writing an earlier date on the contract so that they can effectively start work immediately and it looks as if the customer has already had their seven day cooling off period.

Anyone entering into such an agreement is recommended to check any date that is written on the agreement straight away and make the salesperson correct it if an earlier date is written on there. If you feel that you have been duped by this method and the work has started within the seven days without your consent, please report the business to Consumer Direct on 08454 04 05 06.

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