Originally Posted by dave plasterer
You'd be surprised! I'm a consumer and thought i'd share my story. Sorry in advance but it's a bit of a lengthy one.
We're far from well off, but after saving our hard earned money we decided we wanted to landscape our back garden for a little slice of heaven in the summer, re-paving creating an area for a shed, a decking area etc. My son is severely autistic and this is the area that he can play safely, the garden was already usable but definitely in need of a makeover . We'd tried to go down the route of recommendations first but none were forthcoming so with us wanting to avoid potential cowboys/scammers, I decided I'd use Checkatrade and posted a description of the job I wanted on the site. Within a couple of days we'd had multiple Tradesman interested in our job (Great!) Well this is where it all turns sour.
We had 3 Checkatrade Members come round to view our Garden and quote us for the job, all fairly similar in price but we opted to go with one company that had great reviews, all be it only 4, (I know why didn't I spot the red flags) Fantastic pictures of work he'd previously carried out and he was a great communicator and even coming up with different ideas. Fantastic is what myself and my wife both thought, even better he can start within a week or two! He wasn't the cheapest out of all 3 quotes but with his plans and vision an extra £200 seemed well worth it, we decided on how we'd pay for the job, the total price was £5100. We'd pay £2400 when he starts the job, a further £700 in the middle and the final £2000 on job completion.
Roll on the 17th June a Friday. The Landscaper turned up at 9am prompt, and he and his team began work on ripping up the old flags, removing all the hedges. He piled it all up in a big heap in the middle of the back and front garden. After removing the hedges and flags which took half a day, he took the payment of £2400 in cash, provided us an invoice and said he'll be back on Monday to remove all the old rubble, hedges and he'll be bringing a digger and would be ordering the replacement flags and decking boards.
Monday morning 20th June arrives. 10:00am and no sign of the landscaper. We give him a quick call on his mobile and he answers and says, he's just fuelling up the digger and will be with us shortly. 11:00 arrives and he's still not arrived, we call again and this time we get no answer. However we get a text 15 mins later saying he's just had a family crisis, and will let us know in a couple of days whats happening, but he'll send round his team to remove the hedges rubble. These things happen so i decided i'd give him the benefit of the doubt. However no one did show up to remove the heaps of rubble.
We decided we'd give him the week to sort out his personal issues and didn't bother him for the entire week. We text him again on the Monday the 27th June and asked when he would be restarting, and didn't receive a response at this point i'm growing concerned and left a couple more texts. Eventually on the 29th June he responded, he was very apologetic, said he was still in London, (we're Manchester) and he'll be restarting the work on the 4th July 100% guaranteed in his words, and that he'd send someone to clear out the rubble the next day, (again no one showed).
4th July arrived, and still no show, so i text him again and asked where he was, at this point both myself and my wife were fearing the worst. The next day we decided we'd contact Checkatrade and ask for some advice, they recommended we leave a review on his profile. I left the negative review on the 6th July which as we all know takes a week to be published. He responded on the 7th July to our messages, again very apologetic, but saying he's taken on too many jobs and with his family problems wont be able to start until the 25th July.
Now as you can imagine during this time i'm feeling really alarmed and thinking now that more than likely we've been scammed. The following week i decided i'd visit his profile on Checkatrade and i decided to google search the images of past work he's claimed to have done. Well lets just say my heart sank when i saw they were all from various websites and he'd basically just stole them.
My worst fears confirmed, i was back on the phone to Checkatrade who explained the options of the £1000 guarantee (which still leaves us out of pocket) or the ADR Process. Unfortunately the advisor didn't seem to grasp that with him obviously being a scammer he must have circumvented their rigorous checks and more than likely provided false information. (scammers dont provide their real name and address prior to committing a crime).
Anyway move forward to yesterday and once more i decided to visit the Landscapers profile page and noticed another customer had left a negative review, unfortunately it seems this customer parted with around £4000 and her garden has also been left in the state akin to a building site. At this point Checkatrade must have realised somethings a miss and decided they'd hide the landscapers profile from the Checkatrade search.
I've reported this to Action Fraud. However i've now been told i need to decide between the £1000 guarantee or the ADR Process. I've made an SAR request for the company in question as i dont have a trading address, i'd be amazed though if the information they provide turns out to accurate.
I dont need people to tell me i should have been more savvy when choosing a trader and maybe i was naÔve in thinking the Checkatrade vetting process would do the work for me. However my wife is now heartbroken, my slice of paradise resembles a building site and we no longer have the money to rectify this and get it put right, my son no longer has his safe space to play, especially now during the hot spell.
Before work and after pic.
Apologies for the long post, but we're at out wits end and if this helps someone else not fall victim then it'll be worth it. Dont fall into the trap of thinking just because they're on Checkatrade they're legit.