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Driveway and Patio Trader Scams

By: Tracy Whitelaw - Updated: 4 Sep 2017 | comments*Discuss
 
Driveway Scams Patio Scams Builder Scams

If you're in the market for a new driveway or patio, you're probably thinking of every way you can to save money. Nobody wants to pay a small fortune for something like a driveway that is usually more practical than aesthetic, or for a patio that may not be used for much of the year, so it makes sense to seek out a good deal before committing to a contract with a builder. For many people, the need to save a few pennies can lead to them considering door-to-door driveway or patio salesmen, or going with the cheapest offer to carry out the work. Unfortunately, this often means that taking the cheaper route can lead to long term problems and more money eventually as you find yourself the victim of a driveway or patio scam.

Common Driveway Paving Scams

Sadly, it's becoming more common for salesmen to go knocking on doors looking for business when it comes to driveway paving scams. Normally the process that is involved in this will be that a workman will knock on the door and point out a problem with your existing driveway. He will then tell you that he's in the neighbourhood working on another customers driveway and he had some left over materials that means he could do your driveway for you at a reduced price. Then the offer will come of a reduced price for a short period of time only. Normally, the rogue trader will pressure you slightly into making the deal there and then at the door. Once they have you agreed to a deal, the next step is to ask for cash up front to 'ensure you'll pay'. It is absolutely mandatory that you know there is no way that you should ever pay anyone cash at the door, especially when they haven't even conducted any work on your premises.

Most driveway scammers of this type won't even have conducted a full inspection of your property and therefore probably have no genuine idea as to the exact costs involved or the length of time it'll take. You'll often find that if they do complete the work, it will be to an inferior standard than a company who don't have to go around touting for business door-to-door. In a worst case scenario, you will pay money for a job that is never completed and as is the case for most door-to-door salesmen, they won't have any contact details other than their mobile which is unlikely to be available most of the time.

Essential Points to Look Out For

  • Showing up unannounced
  • Offering reduced price for cash
  • Having one time 'special offers'
  • Being in the neighbourhood with left-over mix
  • Pushing you into a quick decision
  • Not having a contract available
  • Anything that seems too good to be true

Common Patio Scams

Patio scams are fraught with much of the same issues as driveway scams - door to door salesmen usually aren't the best route to take if you're looking for quality work. The difference is that with some patio dealers, they do go door-to-door similar to double glazing salesmen, so they aren't always rogue traders. Overall though, good patio fitters will have lists of people waiting to have work carried out by them and shouldn't need to go door-to-door looking for work. Follow the same cautions with patio traders as driveway scammers. Avoid special offers for cash, being pressured into signing straight away and not being fully aware of your contract and your rights to cancel.

Protecting Yourself from Driveway and Patio Scams

The only way to protect yourself from driveway and patio scams is to always ensure you use a reputable tradesman who is part of a governing body or trade association. In the UK, many reliable tradesmen will be part of the TrustMark scheme to ensure that customers know they are professional in their trade.

Always use a tradesman that you have a good vibe about also. If something feels too good to be true, it usually is. Ideally, you shouldn't even get into discussions with a tradesman who approaches you at your home. Speak to friends and family about tradesmen they've used in the past and then try and hire them. Also, make use of online information sites that outline the positive and negatives of traders in your local area. Always go local, this will ensure you have a point of contact near you also. If you do find a tradesman whom you feel may be a rogue trader, get their number and contact your local trading standards authority. They will advise you on what to do from there and can provide you with information about whether you can help others avoid becoming involved with a rogue tradesman who promises you a fabulous driveway or patio at a reduced price.

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I live in Barnet and my elderly neighbours who have lived in their house since it was built in 1957 were recently the victims of a drive cleaning scam. There were a group of men knocking on each door in our road. They had leaflets for a company called Crystal Home Improvements LTD and are based in Woodford. They knocked on my door and aggressively tried to convince me to have my drive cleaned. They started at £500 then lowered it to £250 then £150 and finally enough money to pay their workers wages. I did not want any work done and spent 20 minutes trying to get rid of him. He tried every intimidating tactic going even offering to do the work and I pay him later. I knew this was a scam and when I finally got rid of him I looked online for any information about the scam and this company. I was really concerned to see the man with two other men on my neighbours doorstep and even more worried when minutes later they started to bring a jet washer and tools into his garden. They jet washed his drive and paving and spent four hours doing it. The next morning they arrived at 8am and were gone by midday. They did more jet washing, spread a bag of sand between the paving stones and were up and down a ladder cleaning his patio columns. Later after they had left I spoke to my neighbour. He had paid £3000 for the work that was done. He had been quoted the random number of £272 the day before and that morning they had 'found' more work that needed doing. They claimed to have weather proofed all his paving and brickwork, relaid his paving stones and proofed them. Replaced the columns holding up his patio roof and general odd jobs. £2728 was added that morning for work carried out in under four hours! There was no weatherproofing, the paving wasn't relaid and the patio columns were the old ones that had been washed. They left him no invoice and demanded money in cash. I did some more research and found that the address in their leaflet is in fact a stationary shop in Woodford that hires out PO Boxes and lets it's address be used as a correspondence address. The photos on their leaflet have been copied from various sites online and don't show examples of their work. It was the classic scam targeting elderly and vulnerable homeowners. They spent two days in and around Barnet and trade under the name CRYSTAL HOME IMPROVEMENTS LTD, 115 George Lane. South Woodford. London E18. Theres another company called Crystal Home Improvements based in Enfield who are a legitimate business and have operated for over twenty years. I contacted them to tell them about what has happened. The owner was aware of this and said that it's a common practice that these scam artists call their business by the same name as a local and genuine company offering the same services. That way anybody checking for online reviews is reassured when they see the positive comments about the real company. The man who knocked on my door was armed with a clipboard, leaflets and wore a plastic ID ba
Hugo - 18-May-17 @ 3:10 PM
I received a knock on the door from Marshalls. The person was very pushy for me to agree to have my driveway cleaned, for £800. He even proposed I give him cheques to pay in instalments. When I declined, he asked me to name a figure, and that he would place a little sign advertising his work. I gave £100 and he then said that I could pay in instalments. He said he is working in the area this week. When I said that I needed to check with my wife and would get back to him later in the week, he then changed his tune to say that he is finishing the work in the area soon. I finally told him I could not commit to making any payment on the spot. He then left quietly.
Muslim - 10-Jun-16 @ 2:28 PM
Simmo - Your Question:
I was scammed in a similar way to the above post. A white van arrived with the logo "Distinctive Pavements". The guy said he would jet wash and seal our drive at a reduced cost. When I wasn't sure he offered to do a test piece then return on Wednesday to complete the job if I was satisfied. Unfortunately I had to go out. The guy used my water to do a poor jet wash and when I returned he had completed the whole drive and left. The next evening he returned and demanded his full money for cleaning and apparently sealing the drive. It was clearly not sealed and I offered him £2m for a job I didn't authorise. At one point it became more than tense as he insisted it was sealed. I had to compromise on a price in between and tried to pay him a cheque. He refused so I had to get the cash. At least one other neighbour, who is elderly, has been scammed in this way.

Our Response:
Thank you for your posting and alerting other readers to how this sort of scam can take place. Please see CAB link here regarding how you can report this.
TraderScams - 20-Apr-16 @ 10:58 AM
I was scammed in a similar way to the above post. A white van arrived with the logo "Distinctive Pavements".. The guy said he would jet wash and seal our drive at a reduced cost. When I wasn't sure he offered to do a test piece then return on Wednesday to complete the job if I was satisfied. Unfortunately I had to go out. The guy used my water to do a poor jet wash and when I returned he had completed the whole drive and left. The next evening he returned and demanded his full money for cleaning and apparently sealing the drive. It was clearly not sealed and I offered him £2m for a job I didn't authorise. At one point it became more than tense as he insisted it was sealed. I had to compromise on a price in between and tried to pay him a cheque. He refused so I had to get the cash. At least one other neighbour, who is elderly, has been scammed in this way.
Simmo - 19-Apr-16 @ 6:26 AM
My neighbour had their driveway cleaned last week by a guy using a white van with the Marshalls block paving logo emblazoned down the side, I assumed it was going to be a quality job by experts. wrong, the dirt was washed up all along my drive over our cars and into the road, add to that the cheek of the man who asked US for our metered water because the neighbour didnt have a hose and his tank had run out. Today the police knocked asking if we'd noticed the registration number, sadly we hadn't. Watch out residents in East London and Essex.
jassy - 12-Jun-11 @ 2:17 PM
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