Avoid being ripped off this Christmas

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Published Date: 

19 Dec 2011 - 10:13

Argyll and Bute Council’s Trading Standards team is warning people to make sure that they ask for details on call out charges and hourly rates when phoning for emergency repairs this festive season.

Not everything runs smoothly at Christmas, you may need a repair to a boiler, electrics or plumbing at very short notice.  Trading Standards regularly receive complaints about hidden charges and huge bills, but complaints are particularly common in the colder months

Chair of the Public Protection and Licensing Committee Councillor Daniel Kelly said, “Charges for emergency repairs such as plumbing work can be very high, particularly at weekends and the Christmas holidays. It is essential that you ask details of the call out charges and the hourly rate to prevent an unexpected hefty bill of hundreds of pounds for a couple of hours work.  Make sure you know when the call out charge or hourly rate starts. You may, in some cases, have cancellation rights but it is much better to be clear about charges before you agree to the work.  

“You can also take some sensible precautions.  Know where your stop cock is so that in the event of burst pipes you can and turn off the water supply to minimise damage.  You can also keep a list of recommended tradesmen handy along with a list of emergency contacts.  It could save you a lot of money and stress when things go wrong.”

Trading Standards do’s and don’ts for picking a reputable tradesman



  • Ask friends and family for recommendations.
  • Get quotes detailing the work to be carried out as well as the cost.
  • Make sure you know who you are dealing with, you should have the full business details including name, address and contact details.
  • Check if guarantees are insurance backed.
  • Avoid paying cash, cheques give you proof of payment, credit cards may give you the added protection of claiming against the provider if the trader goes bust.
  • Get receipts.
  • If you don’t know the trader and can’t get recommended traders look for someone who is a member of an Office of Fair Trading Trusted  Trader scheme contact 0845 7224499 or visit www.oft.gov.uk
  • Contact Consumer Direct on 08454 040506 if you wish to make a complaint/get consumer advice.
  • Contact Crimestoppers If you suspect a fraudulent workmen is operating in Argyll and Bute note the registration number of the van and any other details and Ring and Report on 0800 555 111.


  • Don’t employ workmen who knock your door or deliver leaflets unless you check their trading background. Make sure you have an address and a land line number.
  • Don’t pay up front. It is reasonable to pay in stages or on completion of the job.
  • Don’t pay if you are unhappy with the workmanship, Trading Standards may be able to put you in touch with an independent expert to examine the job.