In an effort to tackle bogus worker type incidents in the Stewartry, a partnership involving the local Safety Forum, Police, Age Concern and Trading Standards Department was developed to create an assured business scheme called ‘Workrate’.
A typical incident concerning Bogus Workers would involve one or more people calling door to door, offering services such as gutter cleaning, roof mending, hedge and tree trimming, tarring driveways etc. These individuals tend to target elderly and vulnerable people, carrying out sub standard (and sometimes non existent) work, before charging large amounts of money, with the householder often unwilling to challenge the price or quality of work. The perpetrators can be very intimidating, refusing to accept payment by cheque, demanding cash, and on occasions accompanying the victim to their bank to ensure that they receive the payment in cash.
The scale of this type of problem can be difficult to measure accurately, because on many occasions the victims are unaware that they have been conned, and those that do realise are often too embarrassed to complain.
Recent research has established that, in particular, single women, aged over 80, are most likely to be targeted by Bogus Workers. Not surprisingly the effects can prove devastating with 40% of victims reporting significant reductions in quality of life.
The most successful way of tackling this type of crime requires a community response which recognises that we all have a collective responsibility to ensure that the most vulnerable members of our society are not victimised in this way.
An assured business scheme, such as Workrate, is a recognised means of combating this type of crime. It is also a way of supporting our legitimate, locally based, businesses and tradesmen, while targeting unscrupulous travelling fraudsters.
Workrate aims to provide a register so that customers can make an informed choice when it comes to engaging tradesmen to carry out work on their property. Those traders who sign up to the scheme will agree to provide a written quote prior to commencing any work, as well as agreeing to accept payment by cheque. Customers will be provided with a prepaid postcard on which they will be asked to rate the trader’s work in the following areas:
· Value for money
· Customer Interaction
These replies will be collated on a quarterly basis and published in local voluntary news sheets through organisations such as the Stewartry Council of Voluntary Services and Age Concern.
Whilst the scheme is aimed at all trades, it will initially concentrate on those areas of work commonly targeted by Bogus Workers, such as gardening, painting and roof work.
There are no costs to those tradesmen who sign up. The hope is that they, in turn, will benefit by belonging to an accredited scheme, which will be promoted by the participating agencies.
For a list of current Workmen who are part of the Workrate Scheme within the Stewartry please click the link below:
Dumfries and Galloway Council have recently launched a region wide ‘TRUSTED TRADER’ scheme which the forum supports.
Any traders wishing to join the scheme should contact Dumfries and Galloway Councils Trusted Trader Officer direct.
For details follow the link below.