'Cowboy' Tradesmen

Top Tips on How to Spot ‘Cowboy’ Tradesmen

How do you spot a dodgy, ‘cowboy’ tradesman and not get ripped off?

'Cowboy' Tradesmen'Cowboy' TradesmenWe have all heard at least one nightmare story from our friends or relatives about ‘cowboy’ tradesmen such as builders, plumbers or electricians.  In many cases by the time we discover that there is a problem the culprits are already long gone, and there is little chance of getting the job put right or getting our money back.

Here are a few tips to stop you being ripped off by dodgy tradesmen:

  • ‘Cowboys’ often ask to be paid upfront – a reliable builder should only be paid once they’ve completed the job, or have done a reasonable amount of work to an agreed standard by you, and as outlined in their terms and conditions.
  • They ask to be paid in cash – if a builder only accepts cash-in-hand payments, then they might be acting dishonestly by avoiding paying VAT, we all have to pay the taxman (unfortunately), so this could be sign they are a ‘cowboy’.
  • They are unwilling to give you an exact time-frame or a written estimate – this indicates that they may not be planning to stick to the time agreed or the decided fees.  Get it in writing.
  • They offer a surprisingly low quote – this could be an indication of their inexperience at being able to give accurate figures. If things look too good – or cheap – to be true, they probably aren’t. Always find three separate quotes from different tradesman and compare them so you get an accurate ‘feel’ of how much the job will cost.
  • ‘Cowboy’ tradesmen may be unable or unwilling to provide references – if they can’t show you good recommendations, then they’re probably not worth hiring for the job.
  • They want to start work right away – dodgy tradesmen often quickly complete lots of work in one area before skipping on to somewhere else completely new, leaving a trail of unfinished or poor standard work behind them.
  • They often claim to be with a trade association – check them out with the association they claim to be with.  Don’t just take their word for it.
  • They often don’t want to draw up a contract – treat with suspicion if you get the ‘My word is my bond’ speech and the offer of an handshake.  Get a contract that includes the time-frame, agreed costs and the obligations of both parties. If your tradesmen won’t draw up a contract – don’t employ him/her.
  • They only want to give you a mobile number – Often ‘cowboy’ tradesmen will only give you a mobile number, thus making it easier to disappear when things go wrong, and much harder for you to track them down.  Check if they have a landline too, and a website or email address – these all indicate they are a legitimate and established business.

If the above tips all seem a bit scary, read our post on how to find a professional plumber.  All the tips are general to all trades.

For profession plumbing services (minus the cowboy boots ans stetson hat) get in touch with HJZ Plumbing.

Just call 01482 236483 for an accurate estimate, superior work and great service, any time you need plumbing repair or installation work.


author avatar
Steve Atkinson
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