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Elderly Bartestree resident was deceived into buying unnecessary and expensive roof repair works

A company director and salesman from Dorset, who targeted an elderly Bartestree resident, have received fines for ‘unfair trading’. The case was taken to Hereford Magistrates’ Court by Herefordshire Council’s Trading Standards Service on 20 January 2020.

Magistrates found The Green Group (Southern) Ltd guilty of four ‘unfair trading’ offences and ordered the company to pay a fine of £7000 and a victim surcharge of £170.

Director Sebastian Booth (32), of Old Bound Road, Poole, pleaded guilty to charges of deceiving the customer into believing a salesman was a surveyor and failing to give the correct cancellation rights. Mr Booth received a fine of £3000 and was ordered to pay costs of £5300 and a victim surcharge of £170.

Salesman Douglas Allard (49), of Trinidad Crescent, Poole, pleaded guilty to selling a contract for unnecessary work and misleading the customer over the price. The court heard that Allard was now suffering severe disability and would probably never work again. As a result, Mr Allard received a fine of £500 and was ordered to pay costs of £200 and a victim surcharge of £30.

Hereford Magistrates’ Court heard that The Green Group (Southern) Ltd based in Poole, Dorset had targeted an 89-year-old man from Bartestree by using a purchased database and falsely making an appointment for a surveyor to carry out a “free energy saving inspection”. In reality, the company sent a commission-only salesman to sell the gentleman a waterproof wall coating.

The victim told the salesman he couldn’t afford the wall coating as he had to fix a roof leak. The salesman falsely claimed the lowest cost to fix the leak would be £3950 and work would start within three days. The legal minimum 14 day cooling off period had been breached and an independent chartered surveyor estimated the cost of repair works would be a maximum of £2200 + VAT. Fortunately the victim called Trading Standards shortly after being coerced into the contract; they were able to intervene to cancel the work and carry out a full investigation.

Herefordshire Council’s Trading Standards Service Manager, David Hough, said:

“We want family, friends and neighbours to remain vigilant in protecting elderly residents who are often the target of cold calling scams. I would urge people to never respond to unsolicited telephone calls, mail shots, text messages or door-to-door selling.

“The council has a zero tolerance policy on rogue trading and our Trading Standards team will work tirelessly to crack down on anyone preying on vulnerable residents. This prosecution is one of what is becoming a long line of cases against companies based in the Bournemouth area who target the elderly for home improvements. These companies tend to sell waterproof wall and roof coatings or spray foam loft insulation through cold calling. The products are usually unnecessary and sold at inflated prices. We urge local residents to avoid becoming a rogue trader victim simply by not engaging with any cold callers, whether on the telephone or at the door.”

Anyone concerned about the activity of a doorstep seller is urged to contact the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 03454 04 05 06 or visit the Herefordshire Council website for more consumer advice www.herefordshire.gov.uk/scams

Published: Thursday, 30th January 2020