Episode 13 Dirty Tricks of the Tradesmen


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Episode 13

Hidden-camera series. Roger fixes a genuine problem for one Berkshire woman, before flannelling her with reasons to charge several hundred pounds for further maintenance work.


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Transcript


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What could be worse than when something goes wrong with our homes?

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Last year, we spent a staggering £15 billion on house repairs.

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Who can tell for sure that we've not been taken for a ride?

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Do you want to go for 225?

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Just for today, 500 quid, cash.

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Probably about seven and a half grand.

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Thanks to audacious secret filming,

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we'll demonstrate how easy it is to be ripped off in your own home.

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-You've been ripped off. He's not a bona fide tradesman.

-He's not?

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Have I been done?

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So, yeah, been done. Maybe.

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Plus, we show the consequences of truly shocking tradesmen rip-offs.

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There's always going to be cowboys in every business. I was unlucky.

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The house was a death trap.

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There's no other word for it. Conned.

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Coming up on today's show,

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'our plumber Roger acts rotten and tries to turn a simple tap repair

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'into a rip-off worth hundreds of pounds.'

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"Must rise continuously to an open vent."

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If it doesn't, the pressure builds up, and the thing goes sky high.

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'A ruthless team of crooks who pocketed £6,500

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'from building and driveway tricks they played on an elderly consumer.'

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He can't use his hands very well. They were writing cheques for him.

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'And how will a consumer wiggle out of paying an extortionate bill

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'when Roger plans an outrageous wiring job in Buckinghamshire?'

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We can actually fit that. That is normally 500 quid.

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I really don't want to leave it like that.

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What if I did it for 450?

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These are the dirty tricks of the tradesmen.

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I know little about the workings of boilers, fuse boxes

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and central heating systems - who does?

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The specialists do. Thankfully, the majority do a terrific job.

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But there is a small minority

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whose only interest is in making money - at our expense.

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Today, we're meeting people who've been ripped off by the cowboys.

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With your help, we'll show you how easy it is to fall for the oldest tricks in the tradesmen's book.

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People have been setting up friends and relatives for a visit from our own tradesmen. Why?

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To show you how to avoid being taken to the cleaners.

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'Meet the man of the hour, Roger Bisby.

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'He's got more than 40 years' experience in the building trade.

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'There's little he doesn't know about boilers and gutters

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'or fascias and soffits - and door handles!'

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We're asking Roger to change tack and go against his deeply held beliefs.

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He's going to be a dodgy tradesman and show us how not to get conned.

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'We've set up a few minor household problems.

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'Roger's going to fix them and play some dirty tricks.

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'He's working with cameraman Luke,

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'who's acting as an apprentice, so they can film everything in secret.

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'In a moment, we find out which family they'll be hitting first.'

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It's surprising that only one consumer who's met Roger this series

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has asked to see his ID or try to check his qualifications.

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If that's how YOU treat REAL tradesmen, it can be very dangerous.

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Not only for the wallet, but also for home safety.

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Would you let a complete stranger tackle your power supply?

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Roger's on his way to Buckinghamshire to find out.

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'Lois Gratericks lives in a rented home with her boyfriend

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'and her 24-year-old brother, Gareth.'

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All he wants to do is play on his computer.

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Trying to get him out of the house is near on impossible.

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I just want him to have a little bit more aims in life.

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'Today, Lois is determined to put Gareth in the firing line.'

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I want to set my brother up because he's lazy and it's bugging me

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that me and my partner are at work 24/7, working all the time.

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We come home, the tidying up's not done. He just doesn't do anything.

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So this is a little bit of revenge, I guess.

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'Lois is telling Gareth that the fuse box has a problem.

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'Sparks may fly when Roger and Luke act as dodgy electricians.

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'They've brought a gadget which Roger had lying around.

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'They'll want to over-charge Gareth to install it.'

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-What have we got there?

-A box with a few buttons and lights.

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We're going to tell them that this box is worth £500.

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We'll charge them that, but if they sign up for the bigger job,

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having the house re-wired, we'll give them a discount of £500

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off the bigger job.

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Roger has three tricks in mind.

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First, he'll shower Gareth with scare stories about the wiring,

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a common rogue's trick.

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Then he'll offer two solutions, both unnecessary.

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The full re-wiring will solve the problem, worth thousands of pounds,

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or there's a temporary solution, a circuit breaker costing £500.

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Roger makes money either way.

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'When it comes to repairing fuse boxes,

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'a typical cost is £200, all-in.

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'Some tradesmen may do the work

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'on a:

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'If he talks Gareth into having the circuit breaker installed

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'that could bring Roger as much as a £300 profit.

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'We know what a silver-tongued trickster he can be.

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'It's just before four o'clock when he arrives.'

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Hello. We've come to look at the electrics.

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-Hello, dogs. Look at you!

-PAWS SCAMPER AND SLIDE

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Can't run very much on that laminate!

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-Where am I going? Fuse box.

-What do you want?

-Fuse box.

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That's what I'm here to look at. It's down there?

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Oh, yeah, this is an old re-wired job.

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'Like so many people Roger visits, Gareth hasn't asked to see any ID.

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'He might want to check that Roger is an approved electrician. No.

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'He lets him walk straight in, which is Roger's cue to rip him off.'

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Look at that! What have we got here?

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Bit of an old wiring system, Luke.

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'Roger's ready to spark into action and play his first dirty trick.

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'Gareth needs to look out. There's a belly full of scare tactics heading his way.'

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These old re-wirable fuses,

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there's a fire risk with these, that's why people take them out.

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Every year, there's thousands of house fires caused by wiring.

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Wiring is the most common cause of house fires.

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What we ought to do is replace this board here.

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'Roger's twisting the facts about fires to suit his own means, one of the oldest tricks in the book.'

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At the moment, it's all nice.

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I told him there's a possibility that his house could burn down,

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but I haven't laid it on thick with a trowel.

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Let's try upping the game and seeing where we can get with it.

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Luke, if I gave you a guess,

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how many deaths do you think are caused every year by faulty wiring

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in the UK?

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-Er...200.

-200?

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It's not as many as that but there are 1,200 house fires every day

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caused by faulty wiring.

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-What do you think to that?

-It's quite a lot.

-Every day, Luke.

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'In fact, according to the Royal Society for Prevention of Accidents,

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'the figure is closer to 1,900 house fires caused by faulty wiring

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'every YEAR.

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'It's still rotten of you to use this as a scare tactic.

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'With Gareth spooked, it's time to bring out the bogus circuit breaker

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'and hopefully secure a nice big re-wiring job down the line.'

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-That fuse board is...iffy. I think it ought to be replaced.

-OK.

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That'll be around £1,500 to do that job.

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What I'm thinking, in the meantime, to protect the house,

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till either us or somebody else can get round to it,

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we can fit a device which protects against fires.

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It'll cut the power circuit off

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if there's any trace of a fire.

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We can fit that. They're normally about 500 quid.

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'Remember, that fake circuit box cost Roger next to nothing.

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'He'll be quids in if he persuades Gareth to agree.'

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If we take that back when we do the proper job,

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we give you the money back.

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But if I stick that unit in, just to protect you...

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-I'd have to ring my landlady. She's going to be paying for it.

-OK.

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'Uh-oh. There's a landlady, Roger. That might scupper your dirty trick.

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'So, will Roger succeed in parting Gareth from his money?'

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-Your chequebook's out of date?

-I've got a 2006 chequebook!

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'And how will Gareth react when the penny finally drops?'

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I did think it was weird I didn't get any paperwork.

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I didn't think to question that.

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If you think Roger's bad, wait till you see this next true-life story.

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'There's nothing more shocking than falling victim to tricky tradesmen

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'who have only one thing in mind - to extort huge sums of money

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'to fix damage to your home.

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'This was the scenario facing Ian and Cynthia Watt of Dorset.

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'They fell prey to a dodgy builder

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'who caused damage to their home and made their lives absolute hell.'

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I've lived here for over 45 years.

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This is the first time I've ever been scammed.

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'Fortunately for Ian,

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'he had Ivan Hancock from Dorset Trading Standards

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'fighting on his side against this tricky tradesman.'

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The main point of the case against Kevin Sherwood was the fact that

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he got the consumer, Mr Watt, to have roofing work done

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when that work wasn't required.

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'It all began on 15th January 2009, when Ian and his wife were asleep

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'and something went bump in the night.

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'They didn't investigate until the next morning,

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'when they found the frontage of their garage roof on their driveway.

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'Somehow, it must have fallen off in the night.'

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All of a sudden, a gentleman came and said he was just driving by,

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saw we had a problem and would fix it for £20.

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'A stroke of luck? A coincidence?

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'Who knows? Roofer Kevin Sherwood was quickly on the scene.

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'Having spotted an opportunity, he sprang his first dirty trick -

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'to take advantage of Ian and Cynthia's immobility

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'and con them out of as much cash as possible.'

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They went up onto the roof,

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found tiles were broken and they needed money

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to pay for more materials they thought they needed.

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The price went up to £900.

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'£20 up to 900! That's a staggering 4,400% increase!

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'But Sherwood had another dirty trick up his sleeve.

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'He agreed a contract for £900,

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'including a seven-day cooling-off period.

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'But he broke that agreement and continued to charge more and more.'

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And then it escalated to £2,500.

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Then it went up to over £3,000.

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He was now entering into a contract to do a much higher priced job.

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It had escalated to such a level

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that new contract documents should have been given.

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'It seems the only paperwork that interested Kevin Sherwood

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'was the money kind.

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'The roof was becoming susceptible to the elements.

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'That caused distressing problems inside, for Ian and his wife.'

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And then it started to rain and the water was pouring in

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to the front room.

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The water poured in over the top of the window.

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It was like a miniature waterfall all down the window.

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Everything got soaking wet and it's caused black mould

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to grow underneath the window and on the wall.

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My wife and son kept soaking it up with a load of towels,

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and then spin-drying them in the washing machine

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to keep up with the water that was coming in.

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'These poor people! What could they do, trapped in this situation?

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'It was Sherwood's greed that put a stop

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'to his relentless stream of trickery.

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'He demanded full payment of £3,700 in a bank transfer.'

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He gave me a bank card, his bank card,

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to go and transfer money

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from my account to his account.

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The bank said they'd never heard of this type of transaction before,

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they didn't like it and I should contact the police.

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'Thanks to quick-thinking bank staff

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'Dorset police confirmed the suspicion of fraud, and alerted Ivan Hancock's team.'

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An independent surveyor was able to look at the pieces of wood

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that had been removed from the roof, and draw conclusions about whether or not work was necessary.

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'The surveyor believed Ian's roof

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'had at least another 20 years of life in it.

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'Claiming that it was at risk of leaking was a misrepresentation.

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'Trading Standards had Sherwood bang to rights.'

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I wanted to go to court

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cos I wanted them to stop these people doing these scams.

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I think I did want them to be punished.

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'Because the police and Trading Standards acted quickly, Ian never paid a penny

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'of the £3,700 demanded.

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'However, it cost him £2,500

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'to have a reputable roofer put the damage right.'

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I did try to make an insurance claim

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but I wasn't insured for that type of damage

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because it was malicious, not accidental.

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'I'm desperate to know what happened to tricky tradesman Kevin Sherwood.

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'He was found guilty of three counts

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'of engaging in misleading commercial practice

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'including his failure to provide Ian with written information regarding cancellation rights.

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'He received a nine-month sentence, suspended for 12 months,

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'and 200 hours' community service.

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'Hopefully, this will put a stop to his dirty tricks.'

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The court case was to change someone's behaviour.

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-It's not about trying to get people sent to prison.

-No.

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It's about stopping people misleading the likes of yourself

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and making sure they do their job properly.

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'The Watts now have strong feelings

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'about cold callers and leaflet drops, even if they're genuine.'

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This is a leaflet put through the letter box.

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All there is is a mobile telephone number.

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There's no company address

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or anything that you can check to see if it's bona fide or not.

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Well, it's most unfair, isn't it? To be targeted like that.

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'You're right, Ian, but there's a lesson to be learnt, no matter how distressful the circumstances.'

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-The main thing is for people to see examples like this and realise...

-It's so easy.

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The best thing is to go out and you look.

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If you think your roof needs fixing, to go out and look for a company,

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get a few alternatives, like you had to after they'd been.

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You're the one doing the choosing.

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-It's easy to be misled if someone comes to the door.

-This is the trouble.

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I'd change things now.

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Of course, with hindsight, it's easy to say that.

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'We've an extraordinary story still to come, as heartless rogues

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'rip off an elderly consumer in Norfolk.'

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He was taken to the bank. Monies were obtained and he was left to walk home.

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We felt sorry for Bill that he'd been treated this way. He really didn't deserve that.

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'Plus, as we show you how not to be ripped off,

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'our acting rogue Roger has more dirty tricks in store in Berkshire.'

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I can't turn the hot water back on.

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Because it's dangerous. If anything happens to it, I'm in trouble.

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1,200 for that.

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'But first, time to find out if Gareth in Buckinghamshire will fall for our tradesman's swindle.

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'Gareth's sister Lois set him up.

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'Now Roger's lied to him that the wiring is in a perilous state.'

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That fuse board is iffy. I think it ought to be replaced.

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'He's pushing to install a circuit breaker device and charge £500.

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'He'll give him a discount if Gareth agrees to have the house re-wired,

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'at a much bigger cost, of course.

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'Gareth's checking with the landlady to see if that's allowed.'

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-I spoke to my landlady.

-Yeah.

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-She left me 400 quid.

-Ooh, um...

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-And my chequebook's out of date.

-Your chequebook's out of date?

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Yeah. I've got a 2006 chequebook.

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'Chequebooks don't go out of date, do they?

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'Perhaps Gareth's trying it on.

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'Even so, he's around £100 short.

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'Roger has to think quickly to resolve this set-back over money.'

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So, really speaking, we want...the 500 for that,

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because it's quite an expensive bit of kit.

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I don't want to leave it like that.

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What if I did it for 450? That means you won't get 500 back off the other job.

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-I can do 450.

-Can you?

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I'm doing myself, really, but as I say, I'd rather do it and walk away

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knowing I've done a safe job.

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'Gareth, you saved yourself from a rip-off worth several thousands by turning down that re-wiring job,

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'but you've still been conned out of 450.'

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That's lovely, isn't it? That looks perfect in there.

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'You'd better install that useless gadget before Gareth gets a proper look at it.'

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-How long are you going to be?

-Nearly done.

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-BEEP

-Look at that! Beautiful!

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'Job done, and to reassure his client, he gives some helpful, if obvious, advice.'

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If this goes off..

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it'll just cut one of those circuits down.

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All you've got to do is press the reset button.

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If there's not a fire in the house, then you're all right.

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If there is, call the fire brigade.

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'I can't tell if Gareth is impressed or just stunned.

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'So, Gareth Gratericks allowed a rogue electrician

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'to tamper with the family fuse box.

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'Roger tricked him with stories about house fires and accidents.

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'Now he's persuaded Gareth to have a fake circuit breaker fitted.

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'All completely unnecessary, so will Gareth pay up?'

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Have you got a sack for all that money?

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-LAUGHTER

-No, I had it all rolled up.

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That's one, two, three...

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'What a disaster! If only Gareth had checked for ID.

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'If only he'd asked questions about this bogus equipment.

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'If only he'd asked for a guarantee! He's let Roger walk all over him.'

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-LAUGHS

-You want to become an electrician!

0:20:340:20:37

'As Roger flaunts his bounty, he's offering Gareth advice about breaking into the wiring trade.

0:20:370:20:43

'This could be music to the ears of his sister Lois, who set him up.'

0:20:430:20:48

That's it. Lovely.

0:20:480:20:50

'And there it is - £450 for nothing! Plugging in a useless box.'

0:20:500:20:55

-Well, I'll contact your landlady and get the other job booked in.

-OK.

0:20:550:21:00

Cheers.

0:21:000:21:02

'Weighed down by Gareth's cash, Roger and Luke make a sharp exit.

0:21:020:21:07

'Roger out of sight, our producer breaks the news that Gareth has been ripped off.'

0:21:100:21:16

-Hello.

-Hello, there. Sorry to bother you. We're from the BBC.

0:21:160:21:20

We're doing a show about people

0:21:200:21:22

who haven't been happy with the work tradesmen are doing.

0:21:220:21:26

I had the electricians round today.

0:21:260:21:28

As far as I was aware, I was happy with it.

0:21:280:21:32

We've been following a guy in the area who works with an apprentice.

0:21:320:21:37

-Yeah.

-We've had reports...

-Was his name Roger?

0:21:380:21:42

So are they actually doing any real work or are they pretending to?

0:21:420:21:46

I'm afraid they're pretending to. They're not bona fide tradesmen.

0:21:460:21:51

I did think it was weird I didn't get any paperwork.

0:21:510:21:54

I didn't think to question that.

0:21:540:21:56

'It's time for sister Lois to return with Roger and explain her part.'

0:21:560:22:01

Oh, that's my sister.

0:22:010:22:04

-< You have been set up.

-I've been set up?

0:22:040:22:07

LOIS LAUGHS

0:22:070:22:09

I thought Roger was quite a friendly chap.

0:22:100:22:14

He seemed to know what he was talking about, which convinced me.

0:22:140:22:17

We were just playing a little trick on you.

0:22:170:22:20

The first thing is, I've probably got to give you the money back.

0:22:200:22:25

I'm clueless when it comes to DIY, so seeing someone else do it

0:22:250:22:29

is kind of...

0:22:290:22:31

I just believe that they know what they're doing.

0:22:310:22:35

In the future, I'll definitely check their ID, if they've got some.

0:22:350:22:39

Which, I guess, they should actually have.

0:22:390:22:43

A registration number, I think electricians have, don't they?

0:22:430:22:48

And I won't pay anything without seeing some kind of receipt

0:22:480:22:53

or knowing that they won't only take cash.

0:22:530:22:58

I guess that should be an alarm bell, perhaps.

0:22:580:23:02

Thanks, Gareth. You were great.

0:23:020:23:04

What should YOU do in that situation to avoid a con?

0:23:040:23:08

Obviously, check the ID of any tradesman who turns up.

0:23:080:23:12

Ensure they're qualified to do what they do.

0:23:120:23:16

If you're suspicious that the work doesn't need doing, raise the alarm.

0:23:160:23:20

The local Trading Standards should be able to give you advice.

0:23:200:23:24

Do-it-yourself is not my strong point.

0:23:270:23:30

Still, thousands of us relish grouting tiles and lagging pipes.

0:23:300:23:34

You have to get it right. A mistake could cost thousands to correct.

0:23:340:23:38

Especially if you meet a rogue tradesman who wants to rip you off.

0:23:380:23:43

So, where's Roger going next?

0:23:430:23:45

'Robert Rogerson from Berkshire is a mechanic who deals in used cars.

0:23:450:23:50

'A master of his own trade, he tries to be a Jack of all trades

0:23:500:23:54

'and insists on doing DIY on the family home.

0:23:540:23:57

'His wife Angela is dubious of his skills.'

0:23:570:24:02

Angela knows that I've done all the plumbing.

0:24:020:24:05

I was helped by a plumber.

0:24:050:24:07

Plumbing's plumbing, but I'm not a plumber.

0:24:070:24:10

'Angela sounds like she's got a lot to put up with,

0:24:100:24:13

'including a tap that's been dripping since Robert installed it.

0:24:130:24:18

'It must be a relief that he's called a plumber to fix it.

0:24:180:24:21

'Except, he's called Roger.

0:24:210:24:23

'Replacing the washer should cost no more than £60.'

0:24:230:24:27

But Roger doesn't want just £60.

0:24:270:24:30

His first trick will be to blind Angela with science about her husband's handiwork.

0:24:300:24:36

Knowing Roger, he'll also make her think that there are other issues that need attention.

0:24:360:24:42

The real trick will be to overcharge her, possibly as much as £150.

0:24:420:24:46

What a rotter!

0:24:460:24:48

'Angela is alone in the house

0:24:480:24:50

'when our cowboys show up for their two o'clock call-out.'

0:24:500:24:55

Hello. Plumbers.

0:24:550:24:56

Sorry we're late. We got way-laid.

0:24:560:24:59

Oh, you don't know! I wish I hadn't said we were late.

0:24:590:25:04

'To be fair, Angela thinks her husband booked these two,

0:25:040:25:07

'but that's no excuse for not checking ID.'

0:25:070:25:11

-Dripping tap.

-Must be the one in there.

0:25:110:25:14

All I can tell you is, I can turn it on,

0:25:150:25:18

-but it'll come back on again.

-Oh, OK. I know, yeah.

0:25:180:25:25

-It keeps emptying our hot tank.

-Yes. It's riding round. All right.

0:25:250:25:29

-Doesn't matter how many times we change the...

-Washers.

-..it still does it.

0:25:290:25:35

'Sounds like a simple fix-it job.

0:25:350:25:38

'Roger should be done and dusted in half an hour.'

0:25:380:25:41

Where can I turn the hot water off?

0:25:410:25:44

-Do you know where the airing cupboard is?

-No. I'm sure I could find it.

0:25:440:25:49

Cos my husband, he put the central heating in.

0:25:510:25:56

-And put that other tank in for the central heating.

-Mm.

0:25:560:26:00

They sort of cross over. I don't know anything, cos he deals with it.

0:26:000:26:05

'Robert's DIY heating system has two hot water cylinders.'

0:26:050:26:09

-Is he unreliable?

-Oh, yeah.

0:26:090:26:11

'That's a bit tough, Angela.

0:26:110:26:14

'You could be giving Roger opportunities to rip you off.'

0:26:140:26:17

That should normally turn off the hot water.

0:26:170:26:20

I'll have to have a look. He's got two cylinders.

0:26:200:26:24

If you do it wrong, you can have bad consequences.

0:26:240:26:28

You can demolish a house with a hot water cylinder.

0:26:280:26:31

-LUKE: It's a very strange system.

-It is.

0:26:310:26:35

-Bizarre.

-I haven't seen many, but this one's quite odd.

-Yeah.

0:26:350:26:39

It is one of the most bizarre plumbing systems

0:26:420:26:45

I've seen in a long time.

0:26:450:26:48

He's got two cylinders linked up in some weird way.

0:26:480:26:51

It's a very easy job for me to just say,

0:26:510:26:55

"I'm not going to turn this back on because it's dangerous."

0:26:550:26:58

Let's see where we go from here.

0:26:580:27:00

'So, you're going to make Angela think her eccentric double cylinders are wrapped up in this?

0:27:000:27:07

'You're being specially devious today.'

0:27:070:27:09

All done. That's perfect.

0:27:090:27:12

That's the tap done. That's the easy bit.

0:27:120:27:15

Let's go back up and turn the water back on.

0:27:150:27:19

'You cheeky devil, Roger.

0:27:210:27:23

'That's £150 for a simple repair,

0:27:230:27:26

'a massive hike on the recommended £60.

0:27:260:27:29

'Time to carry out the rest of your strategy and rubbish the DIY projects made by Angela's husband.

0:27:290:27:36

'Maybe this wood burner has possibilities.'

0:27:360:27:39

It's gonna be a bomb if that ever goes off. Who put this in?

0:27:420:27:47

He did.

0:27:470:27:49

Do you know what? It's a good job I got here, really.

0:27:490:27:54

Cos that is a high spot, it's supposed to go up to the air vent.

0:27:540:27:59

You get the heat building up. It's got to work on gravity circulation.

0:27:590:28:04

If it doesn't, it builds up...

0:28:040:28:06

Then goes pop?

0:28:060:28:08

'There's no stopping our rogue, as he piles the pressure on Angela.'

0:28:100:28:14

It says on the regulations, "Must rise continuously to an open vent."

0:28:140:28:18

If it doesn't, the whole thing'll go sky high.

0:28:180:28:22

'Could his dirty tricks be getting too much?'

0:28:220:28:25

-I don't know what the

-BLEEP

-I'm talking about!

0:28:250:28:27

Now, dodgy repair men may be common, but they're easily out-numbered by dodgy driveway installers.

0:28:310:28:38

Trading Standards record 1,200 complaints about them each year.

0:28:380:28:42

This ruthless duo in our next story played the dirtiest tricks.

0:28:420:28:47

Fortunately, they were caught bang to rights.

0:28:470:28:50

'You'd think the picturesque landscape of Norfolk

0:28:500:28:53

'would be perfect for a happy retirement.

0:28:530:28:56

'For 80-year-old Bill Neal, the happiness of his twilight years

0:28:560:29:00

'was about to be shattered by two rogue tradesmen, Michael Williams and Anthony Field,

0:29:000:29:05

'against whom, Bill wouldn't stand a chance.'

0:29:050:29:08

He can't use his hands well. They were writing the cheques for him.

0:29:080:29:12

He was taken to the bank, monies were obtained from him,

0:29:120:29:16

and he was left to walk home on his own.

0:29:160:29:19

'Williams and Field embarked on a two-year crime spree from January 2009.

0:29:190:29:25

'The main tricks they used were to cold call on elderly victims,

0:29:250:29:29

'gain their trust and carry out work for exorbitant amounts of money.'

0:29:290:29:33

When they found a customer, they would befriend him,

0:29:330:29:39

especially Mr Williams,

0:29:390:29:41

who built up very great relationships with his victims.

0:29:410:29:44

'In September 2009, the rogues knocked at Bill's door.

0:29:440:29:48

'He'd been thinking of having a new driveway done.

0:29:480:29:52

'Bill's daughter-in-law Susan takes up the story.'

0:29:520:29:56

We visit Bill two or three times a week.

0:29:560:29:59

We come round and the drive had been put down over the weekend.

0:29:590:30:05

We didn't know anything about it.

0:30:050:30:07

We couldn't get the gates to open properly.

0:30:070:30:11

'The cowboys had just laid Bill's new drive

0:30:110:30:14

'over his old one, and the shoddy workmanship didn't end there.'

0:30:140:30:18

Bill has mobility problems. He needs a nice smooth surface to walk on.

0:30:180:30:23

They just left it really bad.

0:30:230:30:26

As you can see, the bricks are loose.

0:30:260:30:29

They come out. They're not fixed in properly.

0:30:290:30:33

'For leaving him with a huge step, making his front door unusable,

0:30:330:30:37

'for bricks left in dangerous positions, for the whole sorry job,

0:30:370:30:42

'Bill was charged an eye-watering £1,500.

0:30:420:30:46

'As well as his money, the conmen had secured Bill's trust.'

0:30:460:30:50

He'd got quite friendly with the chap.

0:30:500:30:53

He'd been indoors and sat talking to him.

0:30:530:30:56

He'd built up quite a relationship and thought he was doing good work.

0:30:560:31:00

'That's a common trick of rogue tradesmen.

0:31:000:31:03

'Once they've secured a job, they'll keep returning for more work,

0:31:030:31:08

'all the time, building their trust.

0:31:080:31:10

'So when the pair knocked once more with an offer for a new garden path,

0:31:100:31:14

'Bill agreed to their scheme.'

0:31:140:31:17

We came to visit Bill again and a path had been put in

0:31:170:31:21

between the block pave and drive and his front door,

0:31:210:31:25

which was worse workmanship than the drive itself.

0:31:250:31:29

Weeds all growing through. The bricks are really loose.

0:31:290:31:34

No footings had been dug.

0:31:340:31:37

They're just a load of bricks laid across the garden.

0:31:370:31:40

'When she saw this new work, Susan had had enough.

0:31:400:31:44

'She telephoned Williams to tell him to stay away from Bill's property.'

0:31:440:31:48

Even when the family intervened,

0:31:480:31:51

Williams and Field continued to call at this gentleman's door

0:31:510:31:55

and take money from him.

0:31:550:31:57

Sadly, they talked him into having some more work done in his garden.

0:31:570:32:01

They came and put shingle down in the front garden,

0:32:010:32:06

at a price of £1,400,

0:32:060:32:08

for a bag of shingle tipped out over the soil that was there.

0:32:080:32:12

The weeds have grown back through. The whole garden is just a mess.

0:32:120:32:17

'A bog-standard bag of shingle might set you back, what?

0:32:170:32:21

'Around £80 to £150.

0:32:210:32:23

'To charge £1,400 to just empty one bag of the stuff onto Bill's garden

0:32:230:32:29

'is an absolute disgrace.

0:32:290:32:31

'Together with the two other jobs, the rogues overcharged Bill

0:32:310:32:35

'to the tune of £6,500 - a lot of money in anyone's book.

0:32:350:32:40

'Bill thought he had sufficient funds.

0:32:400:32:43

'Then, in January 2010, a letter from his bank informed him

0:32:430:32:47

'a series of cheques had bounced.'

0:32:470:32:50

We didn't know what had happened.

0:32:500:32:52

We thought he'd got a bit muddled with his finances

0:32:520:32:56

and wasn't sure what he'd spent out.

0:32:560:32:58

'Susan stepped in to help, and she discovered that her father-in-law

0:32:580:33:03

'had been the victim of some very dirty tricks indeed.'

0:33:030:33:07

We found out that they'd been asking him for money for materials,

0:33:070:33:12

then for the labour costs,

0:33:120:33:14

then as the job was progressing, extra money for bits and bobs

0:33:140:33:19

which, obviously, was a rip-off.

0:33:190:33:21

They were just using it as an excuse to get more money out of him.

0:33:210:33:25

'Susan quickly contacted the police. Their investigations revealed

0:33:250:33:30

'there were no depths to which these two conmen wouldn't sink.'

0:33:300:33:35

He can't use his hands very well. They were writing cheques for him.

0:33:350:33:39

They'd take a blank cheque.

0:33:390:33:42

Because his hands are so bad, his signature varies.

0:33:420:33:45

They could have signed anything.

0:33:450:33:47

He was taken to the bank, monies were obtained from him,

0:33:470:33:51

and he was left to walk home on his own.

0:33:510:33:54

We felt really sorry for Bill, that he'd been treated this way.

0:33:540:33:58

He's a lovely old gentleman and he really didn't deserve that.

0:33:580:34:02

'Sadly, Bill didn't get any of his money back.

0:34:020:34:06

'Anthony Field and Michael Williams received their just desserts.

0:34:060:34:10

'They were sentenced at Norwich Crown Court in January 2011

0:34:100:34:13

'on multiple counts of conspiracy to defraud.'

0:34:130:34:16

Michael Williams was sentenced to eight years in prison,

0:34:160:34:21

and Anthony Field to six years.

0:34:210:34:23

They scammed over £90,000 off vulnerable victims.

0:34:230:34:27

'£90,000 from over 30 victims, but what can we learn from this?'

0:34:270:34:32

Phone Trading Standards. Make them aware of what's happening and seek their advice.

0:34:320:34:38

If you're not sure, tell them you're not interested and shut the door.

0:34:380:34:43

'Bill's case is a very sobering one.

0:34:440:34:47

'The balance between interfering with a relative's independence

0:34:470:34:51

'and taking a hand with their affairs can be difficult.'

0:34:510:34:55

I regret that we didn't step in earlier

0:34:550:34:58

and be more thorough about finding out what had gone on.

0:34:580:35:02

We should have done more about it.

0:35:020:35:04

It's changed Bill totally.

0:35:040:35:06

He got frightened to answer the door, frightened to answer the phone.

0:35:060:35:11

We put different phones in.

0:35:110:35:13

He got nervous of people coming to the property.

0:35:130:35:16

That really did upset him.

0:35:160:35:19

For anyone with elderly parents,

0:35:190:35:21

check on them, make sure what people they are having round their house,

0:35:210:35:26

because you just really don't know.

0:35:260:35:28

Thanks to Susan and her family for sharing that shocking story.

0:35:340:35:39

Trading Standards Officers respect your confidentiality, so there's nothing to fear.

0:35:390:35:44

You could be stopping another consumer from becoming a victim.

0:35:440:35:48

'Back to our consumer, Angela Rogerson in Berkshire.

0:35:500:35:53

'She was set up by her husband, Robert.

0:35:530:35:56

'Our plumber Roger was called to fix the bathroom tap,

0:35:560:35:59

'which had been dripping ever since her old man installed it.

0:35:590:36:04

'Roger is saying that hubby's DIY isn't first-rate.

0:36:040:36:07

'He's using this theory as a way to try and con Angela.'

0:36:070:36:11

-Is he unreliable?

-Oh, yeah.

0:36:110:36:13

'He's trying to pocket £150 for his ten-minute repair job,

0:36:130:36:17

'which is a massive hike on the normal cost.

0:36:170:36:21

'By turning up the heat with his scare tactics,

0:36:210:36:24

'he's playing every trick he knows to make her pay even more.'

0:36:240:36:28

-Who put this in?

-He did.

0:36:280:36:30

It's a good job I got here.

0:36:300:36:32

Trouble is, when I'm the last on the scene,

0:36:320:36:36

it comes down to me, professionally, you know?

0:36:360:36:39

'You're treading a very fine line between truth and lies, Roger.

0:36:390:36:44

'That's what genuine rogues do.

0:36:440:36:46

'They play on people's fears.'

0:36:460:36:49

That pipe needs to go straight out from there and up.

0:36:490:36:53

It can't afford to go down, because you've got a load of hot water...

0:36:530:36:58

-He's taken it exactly from where the pipes were.

-Yeah. On the old boiler.

0:36:580:37:05

-The back boiler.

-Which was much lower, that's the point.

-Ah!

0:37:050:37:09

It says on the regulations, "Must rise continuously to an open vent."

0:37:090:37:14

If it doesn't, then the pressure builds up, the heat builds up

0:37:140:37:18

and the whole thing goes sky high.

0:37:180:37:20

'Angela seems to believe what he says, but she's no fool.

0:37:200:37:24

'Rog, give her some details

0:37:240:37:27

'to back up that tall story.'

0:37:270:37:29

Solid fuel's got its own requirements anyway.

0:37:290:37:33

That pipe has to go along there into the cylinder.

0:37:330:37:37

-It can't drop down like that one...

-Right.

-..and then go back in.

0:37:370:37:41

Do you want me to just give you a quote

0:37:410:37:44

for what requires doing?

0:37:440:37:47

'How will Angela react to his over-inflated charges?'

0:37:470:37:52

1,200 for that, including the VAT.

0:37:520:37:54

-A thousand two hundred...

-Yeah. That's the 200 tax.

0:37:540:38:00

This one, with the call-out charge today, we'll just call 150 quid.

0:38:000:38:05

OK.

0:38:050:38:07

'You could be looking at £1,350!

0:38:070:38:11

'All inflated from a tap repair that was worth 60 quid.

0:38:110:38:15

'To be sure she doesn't seek quotes elsewhere, it's essential that he persuades her to sign up now.'

0:38:150:38:21

I'm not allowed to turn the water back on

0:38:210:38:25

until you've committed to the job.

0:38:250:38:27

If anything happens, I'm the last bloke on the scene, all right?

0:38:270:38:32

-What water not turned on?

-I can't turn the hot water back on.

0:38:320:38:36

Because it's dangerous and I was the last person to see it.

0:38:360:38:40

-If anything happens to it...

-Right.

-..then I'm in trouble.

0:38:400:38:44

-So we don't have hot water now?

-Well... I can do the job tomorrow.

0:38:440:38:48

If you want to commit to it and, say, give me, 300 quid deposit,

0:38:480:38:54

-then I'll book it in and we'll do it as a matter of urgency.

-OK.

-Yeah?

0:38:540:38:58

-I can't do anything without him.

-Fair enough.

0:38:580:39:02

'Very wisely, Angela decides to check this major investment

0:39:020:39:06

'with her husband Robert.

0:39:060:39:09

'Of course, it's Robert who set her up for the dirty trick.'

0:39:090:39:13

Just make sure everything's kosher, yeah?

0:39:130:39:16

-Yeah. He seems to know what he's doing.

-He knows what he's doing?

0:39:160:39:21

Well, if you're happy with it, I'll let you fix that out, yeah?

0:39:210:39:26

-I don't

-BLEEP

-know, do I?

0:39:260:39:28

I'm leaving it in your hands. I'm busy at the garage.

0:39:280:39:33

-I don't know what the

-BLEEP

-he's talking about.

0:39:330:39:37

'Today, Angela Rogerson let an unknown plumber into her house

0:39:370:39:41

'to repair a leaking tap,

0:39:410:39:43

'without asking him to quote for it or checking his ID.

0:39:430:39:46

'He's found a way to exploit her husband's DIY to extort more cash.

0:39:460:39:51

'Now he's chasing her for a deposit to install boiler pipes,

0:39:510:39:54

'without allowing her a cooling-off period.

0:39:540:39:58

'Will she fall for his dirty tricks and pay up?'

0:39:580:40:01

-Ooh, look at that!

-300 quid.

0:40:030:40:05

Did you want the other 150 as well?

0:40:050:40:08

-Yeah, I'd like it.

-I've got that as well.

0:40:080:40:11

'Roger, you really are the pits.

0:40:110:40:14

'Angela's handed him £450, just for fixing a leaky tap.'

0:40:140:40:19

-Can I have a receipt?

-Course you can.

0:40:190:40:21

'That's a good effort, but the piece of paper is worthless.

0:40:210:40:25

'He's used a false name and address to make it difficult to be traced.'

0:40:250:40:30

Thank you very much indeed.

0:40:300:40:32

'So, with 450 quid in his pocket,

0:40:320:40:35

'time for Roger to quit the scene

0:40:350:40:37

'before Angela realises she's been conned.'

0:40:370:40:41

-Cheers.

-See you tomorrow. Have a nice evening.

0:40:410:40:44

See you in the morning. You'll be lucky.

0:40:440:40:46

Eight o'clock? You must be joking!

0:40:460:40:49

'The wood burning stove, which Roger says he'll come back and fix,

0:40:490:40:54

'is not in any danger - it's not even connected!

0:40:540:40:57

'Roger out of the way, it's time for our producer to pay Angela a visit

0:41:000:41:04

'and reveal the truth of the scam.'

0:41:040:41:07

-Oh!

-Hello, there. We're from the BBC.

0:41:090:41:12

We've been doing some investigations in the area

0:41:120:41:16

into various tradesmen -

0:41:160:41:18

builders, plasterers and plumbers.

0:41:180:41:20

Have you had any experiences lately? Has anyone been to fix anything?

0:41:200:41:25

Oh! Are you talking about some plumbers?

0:41:250:41:29

Yeah, potentially. They masquerade as plumbers, painters.

0:41:300:41:34

I've had two gentlemen round this afternoon. My husband organised them to come round.

0:41:340:41:39

Just came in, fixed a washer on the tap,

0:41:390:41:42

had a look at the boiler,

0:41:420:41:46

and then off he went.

0:41:460:41:48

That was it. Are they dodgy, then?

0:41:480:41:51

'Time to bring in husband Robert, who set it all up.'

0:41:510:41:55

He's a very bad boy.

0:41:550:41:57

All right?

0:41:590:42:01

Alarm bells didn't ring at all.

0:42:010:42:03

That was only because my husband had organised it.

0:42:030:42:08

I wouldn't have given you MY money!

0:42:080:42:11

If a tradesman just knocked on the door, he would not get past.

0:42:110:42:15

I would tell him, "No!" And tell him to go away.

0:42:150:42:18

Doesn't matter whether I needed work done or not.

0:42:180:42:21

It's hard to get past me.

0:42:210:42:24

Angela was such a good sport.

0:42:240:42:26

Roger's only playing rogue for us. He's not a rogue in reality.

0:42:260:42:30

You CAN rely on the vast majority of tradesmen

0:42:300:42:33

being honest and hard working.

0:42:330:42:35

The crucial thing to remember, as ever, if in doubt, keep them out.

0:42:350:42:39

Thanks for watching. We'll see you next time.

0:42:390:42:42

'If you'd like to help us reveal how easy it is to fall for cons,

0:42:430:42:48

'by sending our trickster to visit friends or family,

0:42:480:42:52

'you'll find all the details at:'

0:42:520:42:57

Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

0:43:020:43:04

E-mail [email protected]

0:43:040:43:07

A Berkshire man with a penchant for DIY sets up his wife Angela for a visit from Roger. He fixes a genuine problem in her bathroom, before flannelling her with reasons to charge several hundred pounds for further maintenance work.

Plus Gareth from Buckinghamshire is set up by his sister, and Roger calls by to carry out maintenance work on their fusebox. Will his scare stories about faulty wiring and house fires convince the young consumer that a costly gadget is needed to make the fusebox work more safely?

Meanwhile, a consumer in Norfolk reveals the shocking extent to which rogue builders tricked her father-in-law into simple gardening jobs, for which he was charged more than 6,000 pounds.