People’s Champion - October 3, 2013

Junction between Quay Street and West Street. Picture: Google Maps

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Have your say

Each week former trading standards officer Richard Thomson answers your questions.

Q I paid a company to install a new bathroom and kitchen at a total cost of £27,000.

I put down £8,000 as an upfront deposit, and paid the balance as requested when the workmen arrived.

It turned out to be a cowboy job and now they’ve got the money they’re not bothered about our feelings. Can you name and shame them please?

EK (Stubbington)

A I must say that when I read of your experience with the firm I was horrified at the poor standard of workmanship and the fact that you’d been overcharged and very shabbily treated.

However I stopped short of your request to name and shame because I can’t possibly be in possession of all the facts.

Although I don’t doubt for a minute what you’ve told me, the stark truth is that you’d have to start a legal battle to put things right.

The secret of keeping cowboy firms in check is never ever pay them all the money up front, but only in stages when you are satisfied with the work.

As tradesmen are not regulated I’d like to see it made law that home improvement firms are compelled to spell out in their contracts the right of offset, which allows you to hold back a percentage of the full and final payment, and insisting on full payment up front is outlawed.

Until that happens cowboy companies employing under qualified tradesmen will continue to rip off trusting and unwary people.

Q I understand there is a website that ranks firms that are renowned for giving their customers a hard time when things go wrong. Any clues please?

RW (e-mail)

A The Mary Portas shopping guru website ranks firms by customer feedback, and you’ll not be surprised to learn that some of the nation’s top shops fail miserably in the customer satisfaction stakes.

Go to maryportas.com/secretshopper/scs/