A rogue trader who pressurised an elderly lady into having over- priced and unnecessary work done at her Wordsley home has been handed a suspended prison sentence and ordered to pay thousands of pounds in fines and costs.
James Thomas Brogan, of Oak Lane, Kingswinford, trading as JTB Roofing and Building Contractors, admitted charging excessive costs for routine work on her home, some of which didn’t need doing.
The 25-year-old pleaded guilty at Wolverhampton Magistrates Court on April 18 to two offences under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 involving misleading the customer and 2 offences under the Fraud Act involving dishonestly making untrue or misleading representations.
The court heard that Brogan cold called at the home of a 72 year old woman and persuaded her to have her driveway cleaned and sealed and told her it would cost twice as much if she didn’t accept the nearly £400 quote that day. He left a flyer with her claiming that he was a fully trained tradesman.
The resident later changed her mind and called Brogan to cancel but was told she couldn’t as he had already bought the sealant. Brogan directed her to a website to read reviews and she saw claims that it was a family run business with over 25 years’ experience so she agreed to continue.
Once work has started Brogan told her that rainwater was getting into the house foundations and persuaded her to agree to pay £1,200 to have a rainwater channel fitted. A few days later Brogan returned offering to repair a damaged porch ceiling and removed the ceiling without permission before quoting £780 for the repair. When the lady said she couldn’t afford to have it done, he dropped the price to £400 but left after half an hour on the job leaving the old plasterboard on the drive. The elderly resident then contacted Dudley trading standards to make a complaint.
An expert surveyor subsequently confirmed that no sealant had been used on the drive, that there was no evidence of any water damage to the brickwork as claimed, that the drainage channel was not necessary, had no value and had been overcharged. The expert also said the cost of repairing the porch ceiling should have been no more than £75.
The court ordered a 12 week custodial sentence on Brogan, which was suspended for 12 months. He was also ordered to pay £2,200 compensation to the customer and £3,000 costs to Dudley Council.
Martin Samuels, Dudley Council’s strategic director for people services, said:
This prosecution sends out a clear message that we will protect people from the activity of rogue traders who flout the law by pressurising customers into having overpriced and unnecessary work carried out. This kind of activity causes a huge amount of distress to the victims.”
Dudley Trading Standards in partnership with Age UK promotes the Fix a Home list of local approved traders who provide services of a high standard at a fair cost. Copies are available online here