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On the back of reading a thread on here earlier this week about a company that had ceased trading, followed by a post on the local Facebook site where a pensioner has been done over by a bathroom fitter I wondered what steps we can take to protect our cash etc. 

 

In the first instance there is always a warning not to pay for goods upfront by cash as you can be protected via Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act for goods over £100 and less than £30k if you put even part of the cost on a credit card (so a small part of the deposit for example). Not all companies will take a credit card but do push them to see if they will acccept a deposit on one. Debit cards do not give you this cover.  

 

https://www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/regulation/section-75-of-the-consumer-credit-act

 

Many companies will want payment before goods are delivered, or a hefty deposit paid for a bespoke order. That's clearly to protect them too which is understandable to a degree, but if you pay by cash you are potentially putting that money at risk.  

 

Then there are companies that provide labour services or supply and fit. In the Facebook post I mention above someone paid several thousands of pounds to have a bathroom fitted. The work was complete and the builder was paid but the shower leaks, the grout is falling out already and some of the floor tiles have cracked so the job was sub standard. Several people have replied to that post to say that they have lost substantial amounts of money to that individual and someone took him through small claims but didn't recover anything as he has 'no assets'. Calls to the company are unanwered and on looking at Companies House the owner of the limited company in question has a history of companies being set up with almost the same name, with the companies later 'dissolved via compulsory strike-off'. There are still 2 companies with similar names (same director) and one has a status of 'Active — Active proposal to strike off'. Seems that this guy has never filed accounts at all and just opens a new company and continues trading. How can this be, and what can we as consumers do to protect ourselves?  

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I guess if paying up front to an unknown company, a search of companies house would not hurt.

 

I have been lucky that all the firms I have used, I have known in various ways beforehand. I guess being loosely in the building trade helps.

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Having multiple companies trading under similar names seems so common I am amazed that there isn’t something that prevents companies being repeatedly dissolved and new ones set up. 

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9 hours ago, newhome said:

Having multiple companies trading under similar names seems so common I am amazed that there isn’t something that prevents companies being repeatedly dissolved and new ones set up. 

 

I've always wondered why a stop isn't put to that, way too easy to screw people over and start again like it's wiped clean

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It is a good point to put a portion of a spend on a credit card. I will attempt to insist on this for all the big-ticket items on my build that ask for a deposit or advance payments, at least for physical items (as compared to services).

 

The ones that spring to mind are:

  • Timber frame & foundations (might be greater than the £30k limit)
  • Windows (might too)
  • Roof?
  • Kitchen
  • Bathroom
  • MVHR
  • Second fix items, such as boiler install?

Anyone already done this on their build I wonder? Any relevant experiences?

 

For service providers, there are almost always paid in arrears in my experience. Does this then remove any benefits of using this trick with them? I imagine it does.

 

Would paying a mere £100 of any bill (less than £30k) do the trick? Its surprising that paying £100 on total bill of say £30k provides full Section 75 protection but it looks like it does. Anyone have experience of this?

 

I did not think of this until it came up recently on BH in the context of @Weebles sad situation with her kitchen supplier. Thanks for highlighting it again, @newhome.

 

 

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Reading https://www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/regulation/section-75-of-the-consumer-credit-act, it says:

 

Quote

However, to claim under Section 75 you don't have to have paid more than £100 or the full amount on your credit card – the card company is liable even if you made only part of the payment (a deposit, say) on your card.

 

So it seems so long as the total ticket price is between £100 and £30k then if you pay as little as 1p on a credit card then you are protected by Section 75. Am I right?

Edited by Dreadnaught

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If an established company (not a sole trader or whatever) won't take credit cards isn't that a bit of a red flag in itself? I'm thinking that the credit card companies will do background checks or watch the company's record and refuse service (or charge high fees) if they think much in the way of Section 75 liabilities are likely to come their way.

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no not really --costs a few percentage for them to take the card payment

between 3-5% usually 

 

then about £50 a month to have the facility +machine--for very little usage

so I would be suprised if builders  had a credit card facilities.

builders merchants --different story ,as they would be happier not giving credit to small one man bands  sometimes

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My experience was that very few companies, other than big suppliers, had the means to handle credit card payments.  With so many now using Quick Books, which seems to default to payment by bank transfer AFAICS, it doesn't seem likely that things will change anytime soon.  I've assumed that this is because Quick Books is cheaper than having the ability to accept credit cards, probably because it's been deliberately targeted to undercut the credit card facility charges.  Not sure how widespread it is, but around here it seems that a lot of smaller tradespeople have started using it.  Seems good for them, especially as cheques are disappearing now.

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I’ve seen some examples of Section 75 cases at work. They range from the very weird to the wonderful but they do indeed cover you even if you pay a very small amount on a credit card. I just looked at the terms and conditions of my TF supplier. They say that credit cards are accepted but I wasn’t offered that at the time IIRC. It wasn’t worth asking as it was well over the 30k limit anyway. Note that you cannot cover just a deposit under Section 75 so if you pay a 5k deposit for something worth 40k for example you aren’t covered for the deposit under Section 75. Similarly if you buy 10 items that are £75 each you aren’t covered either. 

 

So roofing tiles as an example. You will be covered if you buy bulk packs costing over £100 each, but you won’t be covered if you buy individual tiles under £100 each. 

 

 

 

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Most of the tradesmen we used were small affairs and most wanted to be paid in cash. We tended to be asked to pay by the week in most cases (we were paying day rates mostly). Some wanted bank transfers but none of them ever took credit cards. If you wanted to claim against a builder under Section 75 you would need a good solid written agreement to evidence what you were paying for I imagine although if it was for sub standard work that might be less hard to prove. 

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bottom line if you use one man band trades --you got sod all chance of getting money back 

so use trades with good rep  if in any doubt.

probably different here as a very tight knit area --you can soon find out who not to trust by asking around 

but alot less choice as well.

I must a have a reputation --cos when I look for quotes very few  reply -cos they know I ain,t going to take no crap job.

and would go knock their door very quickly if a problem .

If you go for the cheapest   you usually get what you pay for

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1 hour ago, scottishjohn said:

so I would be suprised if builders  had a credit card facilities.

 

Sure, that's why I wrote “an established company (not a sole trader or whatever)”. I'm thinking of companies like kitchen or window suppliers, particularly ones likely to take deposits up front.

 

Ordered a few Velux windows from the local merchants I usually use the other day. Offered to pay by bank transfer to save them the credit card fee but the manager was caught out and didn't have their bank details to hand which surprised me, thinking that most tradespeeps must pay their accounts by bank transfer. Or do they use credit cards for another month's credit?

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50 minutes ago, scottishjohn said:

 

If you go for the cheapest   you usually get what you pay for

 

If it seems too cheap there’s probably a catch - I would agree with that - but we paid an amazing price to have the roof fitted (guy was recommended), and I don’t think anyone would have done a better job. No idea why they charged so little (it was a fixed price paid at the end) as it is a large and fairly complicated roof. We actually paid them a little extra as a thank you, and had them back to do the extension and garage later on. OTOH you can pay top dollar and get a crappy job sometimes. @lizzie has several examples of this. 

 

My issue now is getting people out here to quote (8 miles out of the local town) and then they see a large house and add ££ it seems. 

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32 minutes ago, Ed Davies said:

Offered to pay by bank transfer to save them the credit card fee but the manager was caught out and didn't have their bank details to hand which surprised me, thinking that most tradespeeps must pay their accounts by bank transfer.

 

I definitely paid by bank transfer when I had an account with the builders’ merchant but used to get a statement every month from the accounts dept so the guys at the sales desk never dealt with it. 

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27 minutes ago, newhome said:

 

If it seems too cheap there’s probably a catch - I would agree with that - but we paid an amazing price to have the roof fitted (guy was recommended), and I don’t think anyone would have done a better job. No idea why they charged so little (it was a fixed price paid at the end) as it is a large and fairly complicated roof. We actually paid them a little extra as a thank you, and had them back to do the extension and garage later on. OTOH you can pay top dollar and get a crappy job sometimes. @lizzie has several examples of this. 

 

My issue now is getting people out here to quote (8 miles out of the local town) and then they see a large house and add ££ it seems. 

I agree with that --local trades always want to do "a time +materials " rather than quote 

which i just won,t put up with now --unless it really is something that cannot be quoted for ,

local plumbers are the worst --never have all the common fittings and keep disappearing off job to go get them .

 

they just make the job last all week and work slowly  

man comes into me and says "how much to do a clutch on a mondeo"--he expects me to give him a quote  and stick to it .then usually expects it done super fast 

would be great if i could say the same ,and then make it last all week 

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15 minutes ago, scottishjohn said:

they just make the job last all week and work slowly  

 

 

I've had experience of the other scenario too. Got a fixed price quote from a joiner to do a few finishing off jobs here. He quoted me a grand just for labour and I agreed as I had no real idea how long the job would take. He was recommended by the plumber (who @Nickfromwales later named 'cock' but I didn't know he was a cock at the time :(). He was here for literally 2 half days, worked like something possessed sawing wood where he stood and leaving sh1t loads of mess everywhere (bearing in mind it was a lived in house not a build in progress), chipped a tile in the entrance hall (I know he knew he had done it as I found that he had shoved a blob of silicone in to cover it up). The edges of the skirting he fitted don't stand up to close inspection TBH. If I had paid him T&M he likely would have worked much more slowly. It was just before I joined this forum or I may have been a bit more savvy. At the very least I could have asked for advice on what I should be paying for the jobs in question. Every day's a school day ... the learning costs money though! 

 

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We had a quote for £15,000 (ex VAT) to put down some OSB on two balconies (one 6m wide, one 4m wide, both less a metre deep), fibreglass it, mount channels (already onsite) to support glass, and supply and fit the glass.

 

We'd had the glass priced up at less than £5,000 and the fibreglass materials at several hundred quid. Both of those prices were retail, so I'd expect these guys would get it for less - call it £5,000 all up for materials.

 

As a two-man job, the OSB and fibreglass couldn't take more than three days, getting the channels mounted couldn't take more than one day (more like a half), and installing the glass couldn't take more than half a day. Be generous and call it a week's work. I make that £1000 a day each. 


Same with plumbing - just had a quote for nearly £1000 to move a water softener from one room to the next. I can't see how it would take an experienced plumber more than a day - call it two on the assumption that I'm overlooking some of the intricacies. £500-1000 a day effective rate.

 

Same with ASHP: fixed price of around £1000 to do the RHI paperwork, replace a failed pump, commission the ASHP and tidy up some of the pipework. One day was spent onsite and (I imagine) half a day at most was spent on RHI paperwork.

 

On the other side, we had two experiences where trades underpriced jobs, then did crappy rushed jobs once they realised that they were going to lose money. In both cases we offered to renegotiate the price once we realised things were going wrong, but both took some sort of bizarre pride in sticking to their original prices rather than accepting more money for doing a proper job.

 

These are just some examples of why I hate fixed price quotes.

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3 minutes ago, jack said:

These are just some examples of why I hate fixed price quotes.

 

Then you get those jobs where they deliberately use your naivety and lack of clarity to miss things out that they know you will want / need, and then charge a fortune for them as 'extras' afterwards. 

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6 minutes ago, newhome said:

Then you get those jobs where they deliberately use your naivety and lack of clarity to miss things out that they know you will want / need, and then charge a fortune for them as 'extras' afterwards. 

 

Thankfully I don't think we had that with any of the trades we had onsite. Plenty of other issues though, don't worry!

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1 hour ago, jack said:

We had a quote for £15,000 (ex VAT) to put down some OSB on two balconies (one 6m wide, one 4m wide, both less a metre deep), fibreglass it, mount channels (already onsite) to support glass, and supply and fit the glass.

 

We'd had the glass priced up at less than £5,000 and the fibreglass materials at several hundred quid. Both of those prices were retail, so I'd expect these guys would get it for less - call it £5,000 all up for materials.

 

As a two-man job, the OSB and fibreglass couldn't take more than three days, getting the channels mounted couldn't take more than one day (more like a half), and installing the glass couldn't take more than half a day. Be generous and call it a week's work. I make that £1000 a day each. 


Same with plumbing - just had a quote for nearly £1000 to move a water softener from one room to the next. I can't see how it would take an experienced plumber more than a day - call it two on the assumption that I'm overlooking some of the intricacies. £500-1000 a day effective rate.

 

Same with ASHP: fixed price of around £1000 to do the RHI paperwork, replace a failed pump, commission the ASHP and tidy up some of the pipework. One day was spent onsite and (I imagine) half a day at most was spent on RHI paperwork.

 

On the other side, we had two experiences where trades underpriced jobs, then did crappy rushed jobs once they realised that they were going to lose money. In both cases we offered to renegotiate the price once we realised things were going wrong, but both took some sort of bizarre pride in sticking to their original prices rather than accepting more money for doing a proper job.

 

These are just some examples of why I hate fixed price quotes.

 

1 hour ago, jack said:

.

so if you so good at quoting why did you not ask the guys if they were sure that was enough . and ask for breakdown of costs 

labour +parts.

 my roof man would have said was --no OSB-

-go ask someone else if you want OSB

proper  19mm t&g flooring mdf only

his quotes are very simple £100sqm for making a new grp roof

  so he would have been more expensive --but maybe better in long run especially for  balconies

I,m not trying to rip people off by getting cheap  quotes,

I ve had cheap quotes and seen what they intended to do and said no thanks

 like double glazing one time --got price then noticed all plasterwork etc was up to me--they didn,t get the job--they wouldn,t give a crap how they pulled it out they didn,t have to fix it

they came back 3 weeks later and wanted to know why 

--all of a sudden 4 days later they are back  the plasterwork and touch up with my paint was included--they were very careful how they cut out old windows  needed  hardly  nothing other than decorators sealer--to start with they said my inner widow ledge would have to go --it never was moved

,but by same token don,t try to rip me  off-

with materials listed in quote you can see if they are using what you would consider correct quality materials

Edited by scottishjohn

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11 minutes ago, scottishjohn said:

so if you so good at quoting why did you not ask the guys if they were sure that was enough . 

 

Where did I say I was "so good at quoting"? When someone takes the piss to the extent that these guys did, you won't find me going back for a second helping. There're almost no materials in the quote - I already had all fixtures and fittings except for the fibreglass and the glass itself, and this was made clear when I asked for the quote. 

 

26 minutes ago, scottishjohn said:

his quotes are very simple £100sqm for making a new grp roof

  so he would have been more expensive --but maybe better in long run especially for  balconies

 

More expensive than what? The balconies are 10m2 in total (6x1 + 4x1), so that's a grand for your guy to do it. That leaves £9k for these other blokes to bolt (supplied) aluminium extrusions to the house using supplied fixings, then install some glass.

 

I've done the OSB myself. It took less than a day working completely alone. I'll let you know how long the rest of it takes me once I finish, but I can tell you now I won't have spent 10 working days on it by the time I'm done. 

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3 minutes ago, jack said:

I'll let you know how long the rest of it takes me once I finish, but I can tell you now I won't have spent 10 working days on it by the time I'm done. 

 

And (no disrespect) you don't do this type of work professionally so it should take you longer than a professional. I know these guys need to make a living but some of them just take the proverbial. 

 

As an aside I looked up the local trader who has ripped off various people and his FB page is full of political posts condemning anyone with money, but he is happy enough to take money off people who have likely saved hard to afford to have their bathroom refitted (or whatever). Such hypocrisy! 

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1 minute ago, newhome said:

And (no disrespect) you don't do this type of work professionally so it should take you longer than a professional.

 

No disrespect taken - while I'm alright at DIY, I tend to be extremely slow. People we've had onsite previously would have had the OSB cut and down within a couple of hours of arriving onsite.

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