Rogue traders strike and getaway with £400

We were recently contacted by a lady named Helen from London. Unfortunately she had been conned by someone knocking doors. Helen was after some advice after reading our page about employing a tree surgeon. Unfortunately she was taken in as it was a tree which needed attention and it had been on the “when i get around to it” list for a while. Helen had some work done previously by a more professional company.

  • Someone knocked on her door (on a saturday) and said they were in they were working in the area and offered their services. This should have been the first sign, anyone knocking doors is not busy enough, particularly on a Saturday. Saturday is also the day most people are in, making it more likely that they will find a willing victim.
  • They offered to ‘top’ the tree (- topping and lopping are bad terms to use) and apply something they called KV9. This magic potion (applied to the tree for an extra £400) would stop the tree growing for 5 years, they guaranteed it!  The only way you can stop a tree growing is to kill it. I have never heard about this magic potion and cannot find anything about it on google. Applying anything on wounds on trees is a very bad idea. You might be able to suppress the tree a little bit by poison it but this is also a bad idea. It can lead to death directly from the poison or can weaken the tree allowing secondary pathogens to enter the tree.
  • They had no safety equipment, I mean nothing. No chainsaw boots, no chainsaw trousers and no face/head/ear protection. They turned up in jeans and shoes and used a ladder to hack a few lower branches off the tree.
  • They said they had a wood chipper but this did not appear, the branches were just loaded onto the truck
  • They said they have to pay £175 a load to dispose of the waste. In reality they were probably paying about £30 a load for disposal of branches.
  • When asked to provide proof of qualifications and insurance they stated they were in “head office”
  • They only provided an 0800 number, no names or addresses. Nothing to tie them down, making their 5 year guarantee worthless.
  • When asked to leave they turned nasty and demanded money for the work done or they would unload all the truck onto their drive. Fearing the worst Helen paid up just over half the money they demanded and they promised to return on Monday with all the correct documentation for the remaining cash.

I felt sorry for Helen and helped as best as I could. No doubt it happens all over the country. I would never used any tradesman or service provider who knocks doors. You have no idea who they are or what it will cost you to correct it when it goes wrong. The whole “we are working in the area…” line is the first warning sign. Say “no” and close the door.

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