A pair of rogue traders who ignored advice from South Gloucestershire Council Trading Standards have each been fined over £1,200 and handed a ban from cold calling anywhere in the UK for two years.
Michael Purcell (37) and Harry Edwards (24), both of New Stables, Llancayo, Usk, (who traded as Buxton’s Landscapes) appeared before Bristol Magistrates’ Court on 4 September where they pleaded guilty to two offences of aggressive commercial practices and a single offence of a misleading action under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008.
They were each fined £600 and ordered to pay £605 in costs, along with a victim surcharge of £30. Magistrates also ordered that they are both subject to a two year Criminal Behaviour Order (CBO). The order bans them from cold calling anywhere in the UK and requires that they comply with consumer protection legislation governing contracts made in customers’ homes.
The case was taken by South Gloucestershire Council Trading Standards who first become aware of Purcell and Edwards in October 2015 when they were discovered carrying out tree work at a house in Frampton Cotterell.
It was established that the pair were not providing their customer with written notice of their 14 day cooling off rights; in fact the agreement was only verbal. On that occasion the pair were warned and issued with full written advice on the law.
During May 2018, Trading Standards became aware that Purcell and Edwards were operating in a ‘No Cold Calling Zone’ in Sunningdale, Yate and the surrounding areas.
Investigations found that a 77-year-old resident of Hoylake, Yate had agreed for Buxton’s Landscapes to build a low level wall on her property for £1,400 during May 2018, but had cancelled the agreement within a few days as per her 14 day cooling off rights.
Although her cancellation was clearly communicated to the business by telephone, Purcell and Edwards ignored it and started building the wall when she was out.
When the resident protested they pair ignored her and carried on with the work. At one stage they even told her that Trading Standards had been to see them and said that the wall was fine. She felt worn down by the pair and eventually paid the £1,400 for the construction of the wall.
A second customer in Kelston Close, Yate agreed for Buxton’s Landscapes to lay a small patio and decking in her garden for £800 during May 2018. She tried to cancel the job twice when she was not happy with the way the men conducted their business.
On one occasion she was told that they had already purchased the materials and on another that it would cost her £200 to cancel the agreement. After hearing this she felt that she had no option but to let Purcell and Edwards do the job, which she paid them £800 for.
In court, the pair admitted their aggressive practices of carrying on with the work despite there being a legal right to cancel and their failure to give a notice of 14 day cancellation rights.
South Gloucestershire Council’s Trading Standards and Anti-Social Behaviour teams worked in partnership to secure the CBO against both men in this case.
South Gloucestershire Council’s Cabinet Member for Communities, Cllr Rachael Hunt said: “This was a classic case of rogue trading, where the pair used aggressive tactics to ensure they got paid for the work come what may, even though their customers were exercising their legal right to cancel with no cost.
“We will not tolerate rogue traders who try to intimidate people in this way and we will not hesitate to take the relevant legal action to prevent them from cold calling anywhere in the UK.
“We strongly advise residents not to deal with doorstep traders and to only make agreements with reputable traders, never paying any money up front.”
Anyone who suspects that rogue traders are operating in their area should report it by calling 03454 04 05 06.
For more information about South Gloucestershire Council’s Trading Standard’s team visit www.southglos.gov.uk/tradingstandards