TRADING standards officers are advising people to be careful when choosing workers to carry out home improvements.
The Moray office has receive many complaints about shoddy work carried out by unscrupulous traders which often leaves consumers thousands of pounds out of pocket.
Problems such as weeds growing through newly laid tarmac, usually appear a few weeks after the work is complete.
The common types of practice include high pressure and sometimes aggressive sales techniques, carrying out unnecessary work of a very low standard at an inflated cost.
By the time the problems appear, the worst traders are long gone with the consumer’s money, with no way of contacting them for a refund.
The advice from trading standards officers is never to agree to work on the doorstep.
Sellers are often trained in pressure sales techniques and they can be very persuasive.
Typically, they will say that the consumer must agree to the work being done immediately to get a bargain price.
Consumers’ best protection is to say ‘no thank you’ and close the door.
They should be especially wary of traders from outside Moray who use ‘virtual offices’ to provide a local address and phone number. It is very important to make sure that consumers know who they are dealing with.
A Moray Council spokesman said: "Advice from our trading standards section is always to pay by credit card, which gives the buyer vital protection if the trader cannot be found.
"The consumer can claim against the credit card company if there are any problems.
"The worst traders will not be able to accept credit card payments."
He added: "Homeowners should also be aware that some types of surfacing work require planning permission."
Unscrupulous traders often target older and vulnerable people and anyone who is concerned about cold callers should seek advice from Citizens Advice consumer service on 08454 040506.