Business fined more than £21,000 for selling unnecessary and defective damp proof work to Lillington pensioner

Just a month before that, they sold the same thing to another elderly resident in Warwickshire

Monday, 28th June 2021, 12:31 pm
Updated Monday, 28th June 2021, 12:32 pm
Warwickshire Trading Standards became involved after receiving complaints about the company from both residents and launched an investigation.

A business that cold-called two elderly residents - including one in Lillington - and sold them damp proof work that was unnecessary and defective has been ordered to pay a total of more than £20,000.

The resident received a call from Weatherproof UK Ltd in December 2019 stating that there was penetrating damp in the local area and offering a free no obligation survey.

He agreed to the survey and was told that his property also had rising damp. He agreed to work being carried out costing £1,750.

A month earlier, a Rugby resident was told that there was damp in the walls of her home by a representative of Weatherproof UK Ltd who had visited her following an unsolicited phone call. The resident agreed to pay £1995 for damp proof work to fix the problem and to carry out some repointing.

Warwickshire Trading Standards became involved after receiving complaints about the company from both residents and launched an investigation.

After pleading guilty, Weatherproof UK Ltd said the company has now put steps in place to ensure this does not happen again.

A spokesperson for Warwickshire Trading Standards said: "Trading Standards Officers employed the services of an independent Chartered Building Surveyor who concluded that neither home showed signs of damp that would have required the installation of a damp proof course such as the one installed by Weatherproof UK Ltd.

"Both properties had existing damp proof courses. Further, the expert surveyor also concluded that even if the work had been necessary, the work done would not have created a fully bonded and continuous damp proof barrier and was therefore wholly defective and below the standard expected from a reasonably competent contractor.

"Both residents signed contracts for the work at their home addresses, so should have been afforded a 14-day cooling off period during which they could change their minds and cancel. However, in both cases they were directed by a Weatherproof UK Ltd representative to sign a document waiving this right, thus preventing them from exercising their consumer rights."

Warwickshire County Councillor Andy Crump, Portfolio Holder for Community Safety said: “I’m delighted that our Trading Standards Service was able to take this action to protect Warwickshire residents and in this case help them to obtain compensation.”

“We strongly advise homeowners not to buy goods or services from unexpected doorstep callers or people who cold call on the phone.”

At Coventry Magistrates Court on Wednesday June 16, Weatherproof UK Ltd in Tamworth was sentenced and fined £8,000 and ordered to pay prosecution costs of £9,980.61, victim compensation of £3330 and a victim surcharge of £181, a total of £21,491.61.

On sentencing the business, magistrates commented that there were aggravating features that made the offence more serious. The victims were both elderly and vulnerable, yet in 2017 the company had been advised by Staffordshire County Council specifically in relation to vulnerable customers. This advice concerned the company’s responsibilities for self-employed contractors, giving people time to change their minds and alter their decisions and that there was clearly no effective training of workers.

In mitigation, Mr O’Brien, representing Weatherproof UK Ltd stated that his client had no previous convictions and the company had taken full responsibly and had put steps in place to ensure this did not happen again.

At an earlier hearing held at Coventry Magistrates Court on May 19, Weatherproof UK Ltd pleaded guilty to four charges under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008.

For advice on finding a good trader visit: make a consumer complaint contact the Citizens Advice consumer helpline: 0808 223 1133