Plumber’s broken promises leave sour taste

Fareham College was rated outstanding by Ofsted last October     Picture: Chris Russell

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EACH week former trading standards officer Richard Thomas answers your questions.

Q We needed a plumber to replace a washbasin and install a new shower. We were recommended one by a friend. We advanced him £250 for materials, but no work has started, and he’s given us a catalogue of excuses and broken promises.

Please advise.

HJ (e-mail)

A You gave the go-ahead for the work to start in April, but almost three months down the line you’re still without your new sink and shower.

All you’ve had since parting with your money is a string of excuses ranging from a migraine, chasing bad debts, and having tools stolen.

Although you’ve asked for your money back, with the excuses coming at you this thick and fast, the expectation is beginning to look like the triumph of hope over experience. You finally tell me that when you phone there is no answer, which is a manifestation of the ‘don’t call us, we’ll call you’ tried and tested avoidance syndrome.

My advice is to forget it, and look for another plumber – preferably one that is approved by the Chartered Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineering

Clearly, this guy has serious question marks about his veracity, and ability to do the job. As if that wasn’t bad enough, he appears to be flat broke otherwise he wouldn’t be chasing around for money.

I wouldn’t even presume to offer you the standard advice about taking him to the small claims court. From my experience, your chances of squeezing any money out of him look about as weak as a four X shandy.


Richard Thomson has worked for leading UK and European companies as a market research analyst, and in consumer education and protection with trading standards. Write or e-mail him with your consumer questions or to fight for your rights at An individual answer cannot be guaranteed. Replies are intended to give help or advice, not a complete statement of law.