The work of rogue traders and cowboy builders is infamous in the UK, with TV shows and newspaper stories regularly covering the shady dealings of tradespeople trying to take unsuspecting customers for a ride.
According to new research however, 2020 was the year of the ‘Cowboy Customer’, as home improvements customers across Britain screwed tradespeople out of over a billion pounds of their hard-earned cash in the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic.
As we reach the end of the stamp duty holiday, many will be settling in their new homes in spring. In light of this, it is predicted that there will be a surge in tradespeople falling victim to sly customers as they try to unfairly bag the cheapest work possible for their new homes.
Mobile billing service Powered Now has commissioned nationally representative research to reveal some of the most common underhand tactics used by customers when dealing with tradespeople:
• Over 5 million (5,038,000) Brits have quoted a tradesperson for a project with no intention of going through with it
• Over 1 million (1,282,000) Brits have unfairly criticised work done during a home improvement project or threatened bad reviews in order to receive a discount
• Almost 1.5 million (1,743,000) Brits have withheld payment to a tradesperson after the completion of work to try and drive down the price
• Over 2 million (2,496,000) Brits have forgotten about an appointment and been out when the tradesperson has arrived at the agreed time
A recent survey of tradespeople by Rated People also found that the most common issue experienced by tradespeople was homeowners withholding payments in order to rush through the transaction of a property or to drive down the price after the work was completed. According to Checkatrade, the average daily rates for tradespeople in 2020 is as follows:
• Plumber – £347.50
• Electrician – £225
• Handyman – £200
• Kitchen Fitter – £150
With so many people agreeing to use the time of tradespeople for services they know will not be ultimately required, Powered Now estimate that between £776m to £1.75bn of revenue for the UK’s trades has been frittered away, purely through bogus quotes and ruthless measures to win discounts.
To discuss the financial implications that this has on the tradespeople of the UK, Ben Dyer, co-founder of Powered Now, discusses the problems faced by honest tradespeople when dealing with customers across Britain: “We hear back from tradespeople on a daily basis that they are frustrated by the hoops they have to leap through in order to receive their fair payment. We of course recognise that there are horror stories about rogue traders, but we do believe that British tradespeople are amongst the most qualified in the world. They too have to adhere to some of the most stringent regulations going, making them some of the best builders on the global market.
There are a number of underhand tactics and unjust actions carried out by customers across the country that are also commonplace, and we wanted to provide support to trusted tradespeople across the UK who do a great job, day in day out, particularly in the midst of the Coronavirus crisis.
In this new year and third national lockdown, tradespeople are still doing their best to cope during the pandemic in which they are providing much needed economic stability by working throughout the lockdowns. The focus should be shifted to shine a light on the great work that tradespeople do the majority of the time, and not the unfortunate, less than satisfactory work that is completed in the absolute minority of cases”.