Help! What to do if you’ve hired a rogue/cowboy tradesperson


You’ve been scammed! That tradesperson you trusted has left you with nothing but broken promises and a botched job. You’re seriously out of pocket; and even worse, you feel fooled, let down and maybe even frightened.

Wherever you live and whatever your circumstances, everyone is at risk of being conned by a corrupt contractor. And the consequences can be financially and emotionally devastating. These rogue tradespeople promise everything but give nothing -apart from wrecked homes, bad feelings, financial angst and broken dreams.

If you have fallen victim to a cowboy tradesperson, our expert advice will put you on the right track to getting justice.  Most people in crisis want one main thing sorted out – the building works finished or just put right so they can get on with living a normal life.

We can help you do just that.

So here’s what you do:

1: Let Them Know

Point out the poor quality of the work and ask the trader to take the necessary action to rectify/ improve it. In most cases, you are expected to give a tradesperson at least one chance to fix their mistakes. If you’re not confident dealing with the tradesperson yourself, get a friend or family member involved or ask someone you trust to be present as a witness. If you feel threatened at any time, call the police immediately.

2: Get a Second Opinion

It is a legal requirement under the Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982 that all work must be carried out with “reasonable care and skill”.  If a rogue tradesperson tries to convince you that their work is to a high standard (which they often do) seek a second opinion to confirm your suspicions. Following that, inform the tradesperson that you won’t be hiring them for any further work.

Get a second opinion

3: Get Your Money Back

Once you have informed the tradesperson that you will no longer be using their services, you can ask for a refund for the parts of the work that you feel are unsatisfactory. You can also claim for any future costs that you may have to pay to hire another tradesperson to rectify their errors. If the tradesperson refuses to pay back any of the money they owe, you can take them to court to claim your refund as well as compensation for any other financial loss (such as having to take time off work) as a result of sub-standard work. If you paid the tradesperson with a credit card, you may be able claim back your money from the credit card company (Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974). If the building work was insured, you could try to make a claim on your insurance policy.

4: Seek Support

Falling victim to the scams of rogue traders can be extremely stressful, so it’s important that you seek support from your family and friends. People understand how easy it is to put your trust into a seemingly “professional” tradesperson; and those who care about you will want to help you as much as they can. Don’t be embarrassed to talk about what has happened and to seek help. Being a victim of a cowboy tradesperson is a stressful ordeal, and hiding your problems and bottling up your feelings can lead to further feelings of isolation and anxiety.   

Citizens Advice are also there to support you and can put you in touch with the correct people to investigate your case and take action against the rogue trader. In the unlikely event that your tradesperson belongs to a Trade Association, you can involve them too.  A Trade Association may offer a dispute resolution scheme that you can use, but bear in mind that you’ll need to show that you’ve tried to resolve the issues with the trader first. Remember to keep records of all your estimates, invoices and contracts as well as a log of everything that you’ve paid as evidence.

What your cowboy tradesperson has done constitutes as fraud, and the law takes a very harsh view of rogue traders. No matter how defeated you feel,  do not let your cowboy trader get away with what they’ve done.   

The best solution, always, is to take the time and find someone who’ll do it right the first time. And that’s where a search of PropetyHeads Professionals to identify tradespeople your friends and contacts trust can help. You can also search the PropertyHeads Blacklist to identify tradespeople who have already been convicted of offences.

Published: 6 February 2019

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