Beware of Rogue Traders

“It started with a handshake. It seemed like a great deal, and the price was good. I shook his hand and went out to work. As I walked into the kitchen a mere four hours later, I found myself perplexed. The floor was torn up, the coving was damaged and the ceiling had holes in it and the electrics were off. They hadn’t even started work on the roof, which was the primary reason that they were meant to be there. I was assured that things were natural. – That was only the beginning.“


This is an extreme example of the damage rogue tradespeople can cause. It doesn’t always end there either. You might end up completely compromised without any method of contacting the trades person, no ability to take them to court, and with a house that’s completely destroyed.  

So what is a Rogue Tradesperson, or Rogue Trader?

A Rogue Trader is classified as a criminal who uses forceful pressure driven sales techniques in order to take advantage of homeowners. They usually cold call going from house to house, or sometimes using an unlisted mobile number, or listed, if they haven’t thought things through.


The Rogue Tradesperson will generally offer work such as gardening or maintenance service and quote attractive rates in order to do the job. The quality of work is usually substandard, however and is usually overpriced or frankly unnecessary. Some of them even set up the night or a few days before and damage your property so they can sell you easily. A recent example locally was a fellow who went around damaging people’s doorsteps at night with a hammer, then going door to door saying: “Hey I can fix that for you.”


Often the Rogue Trader will be using very persuasive sales techniques, adding pressures, such as “I’m going up to Yorkshire to see my nan tomorrow, but I can sort it out now.” This kind of tactic pushes people into making a hasty decision that they are likely to regret. Be careful if anyone ever tries to apply this kind of pressure to you.


There are times when Rogue Traders use their work as a mask to enter properties. They then steal things here and there where they can.


Protecting Yourself From Rogue Traders


Rogue Traders can pop up out of the blue at any time. There are some steps to take which have been recommended by the local councils and police forces. 


1: If someone cold calls you, never commit or agree to any work offered by this person. You should never make a hasty decision or be pressured into having work done by anyone, even if they aren’t a cold caller. Whatever you do, don’t allow them to make you commit to an on the spot decision, or allow a pressure sale. If someone does try to pressure you into a quick sale, tell them you need to think on it before you commit to anything.


2: If work is done on your house, garden or property, only pay for that work when it is completed to a standard that is acceptable. Make sure that you only pay people with bank transactions so they can be traced and don’t pay anything upfront for trader’s materials. Never pay anyone in cash. Avoid paying using the friends and family option in PayPal as there is no way to get this money back. It is a commonly used way to scam people.


3: If someone calls you at your home or on your mobile number, check the caller’s identity. If you get a private number, this is usually a sign that you’re dealing with someone you potentially cannot trust. 


4: If you have a caller at your doorstep ask for photographic identification. It can be a good idea to check their phone number and cross reference it with either the internet or the phone book to ensure the person is who they say they are. 


It’s important to remember that not everyone who comes to your door is necessarily a Rogue Trader, there are many genuine sales people who run their businesses that way. A legitimate business owner or operative will not mind if you want to verify that they’re a genuine person.


Rogue Traders sadly give genuine businesses a bad name. There are many people out there who are genuinely trying to build their own companies or support their lives as sole traders. Horrendous experiences with Rogue Traders can cause customers to mistrust people who are genuinely trying to make a living. 


Angela White

I am a motivational speaker and business consultant based in London.