Prompt action from building society and trading standards staff save elderly Leamington Spa resident over £25,000

Two Bournemouth traders, who between them attempted to charge an elderly Leamington Spa resident over £25,000 for unnecessary foam loft insulation, installation of a battery for solar panels and other home maintenance work, without giving her an adequate explanation or justification for the work, have been successfully prosecuted by Warwickshire County Council Trading Standards.

Jack Burton, who trades as Roofwise/Jack Burton Property Services Ltd visited the home of the elderly resident and convinced her to purchase foam loft insulation, despite her loft being adequately insulated. She also agreed to pay for other work including roof tile and panel cleaning. She was told the work would cost her £18,500 but no breakdown of the price was given. Despite having been sent a letter by Trading Standards giving him advice about the cancellation rights of consumers just days before, the trader did not give the consumer any information about her right to cancel the contract within 14 days and the work was set to be carried out the next day.

The incident came to light after the 86 year old consumer visited her local building society to withdraw half the cost, £9,250 and was stopped from doing so by quick thinking building society staff. They then contacted Warwickshire Trading Standards which launched an investigation.

Trading Standards Officers supported the consumer, the work was declined and no money was paid. A Harassment Notice was issued making it a criminal offence for Mr Burton to return to the property.

Three days later, another Bournemouth trader Stuart High, trading as Off Grid Renewables Ltd also visited the consumer’s home. High attempted to sell the householder foam loft insulation and a new battery for solar panels fitted to the resident’s property. He attempted to charge the consumer £6,900 for the work without giving the consumer any explanation of how the price was calculated or what the benefit would be in terms of energy savings, but Trading Standards Officers again stepped in and no money was paid.

At Leamington Magistrates Court, on Wednesday 9th January 2019, Jack Burton (age 27 of Cranleigh Road Bournemouth) pleaded guilty to two offences under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008. At a sentencing hearing at Nuneaton Magistrates Court on Tuesday 22nd January 2019, Mr Burton was fined £1584 for each offence, with a victim surcharge of £158 and costs of £4913.90, making a total of £8239.90.

Mr Burton did not attend court and was not represented; no mitigation was offered.

At an earlier hearing at Nuneaton Magistrates Court on 10th July 2018, Stuart High (aged 32 of Holderhurst Road Bournemouth) pleaded guilty to two offences under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008. Mr High was fined £618, ordered to pay costs of £2234.95 and a £60 victim surcharge, a total of £2910.95.

In mitigation, Mr Bridge, representing Mr High said that the case should not be treated as one in which his client was seeking to rip off an elderly lady and that the allegations related to paperwork. He further stated that Mr High had done a lot of other good work and had not had complaints.

Warwickshire County Councillor Andy Crump, Portfolio Holder for Community Safety said:

“Our Trading Standards Service works tirelessly to support elderly and vulnerable people across the county, preventing them from being misled by unscrupulous traders and paying for overpriced and unnecessary work.”

“I’m delighted that this case came to light thanks to the vigilance of a local Building Society. Through the Banking Protocol bank and Building Society staff are helping to identify victims of high pressure sales people and alert their local Police and Trading Standards Service. I’m pleased that this protocol is working well here in Warwickshire as we seek to protect our elderly and vulnerable residents.”

Advice to residents

  • Never buy from the door or from traders you don’t know or trust
  • If you need a job done, seek quotes from local and reputable traders with reputations to maintain
  • Use our approved trader schemes to find traders that are vetted and Trading Standards approved, visit: www.warwickshire.gov.uk/approvedtraders
  • Report rogue traders and high pressure sales people to Warwickshire Trading Standards via the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 03454 040506