Two men who cold-called an elderly lady in Freshwater and charged £770 for work that didn’t need to be done have been sentenced.
William Alfred Joseph Mitchell, 22 from Withy Patch, Old Shoreham Road, Lancing, and David Digger Keet, 25 from Big Tree Cottages, Long Road, Soberton, Southampton, appeared at the Isle of Wight Magistrates Court on Tuesday 8 June.
It follows the pensioner being originally cold-called by the pair on 23 September 2009 and quoted £40 to have her fascias and guttering cleared. Under UK trade regulations, any work costing over £35 requires a seven day cancellation notice – which was not given.
During this work, the pair then claimed to have discovered other ‘problems’ that needed repairing including cracks in the lead around the chimney.
They charged her £770 of which she paid with two cheques and £100 in cash. However, her neighbours intervened and reported the matter to Isle of Wight Council’s Trading Standards Service and Hampshire Constabulary, and she successfully cancelled the cheques.
Subsequent examinations of the house and the chimney by an expert on behalf of Trading Standards found there were no problems and no repair work was needed.
On 30 September 2009 the pair were arrested in a joint Trading Standards and police operation in Fishbourne and were subsequently prosecuted by Trading Standards for failing to deliver to her a cancellation notice in writing and also for engaging in a misleading commercial practice.
Both men were were represented by Steve Tricker and on the charge relating to engaging in a misleading commercial practice, Mitchell was found guilty and given the community sentence, while Keet was found not guilty during their appearance in court on 8 June.
At an earlier court hearing, both Mitchell and Keet pleaded guilty to failing to provide a cancellation notice.
Mitchell was given 80 hours community service over 12 months and ordered to pay £60 in compensation. Keet was given a six month conditional discharge.
Isle of Wight Council Trading Standards Manager Richard Stone said
“This prosecution sends out the message that preying on elderly residents and charging for work that doesn’t need to be done will not be tolerated.
“Our advice is that no one should accept work from people who cold call on your doorstep and if you feel intimidated, call Trading Standards or the police.
“If it hadn’t been for the awareness of neighbours and our subsequent intervention, this lady could’ve been left significantly out of pocket”
A spokesman for Hampshire Constabulary said
“The police acted rapidly on information provided by Trading Standards and different units with specialist skills worked together to trace and arrest the suspects swiftly.
“We hope this successful prosecution gives other victims of rogue traders the confidence to report suspected offences to Trading Standards when they happen”
This article has been read 84 times!