Elderly and vulnerable residents are being warned to be on their guard after cold callers fleeced an Asfordby pensioner for two hours’ work.
The 85-year-old victim, who lives with her 51-year-old disabled son, paid them £450 to have her conservatory roof and guttering washed and an extra £250 to have her slabs pressure washed.
The victim, who wanted to remain anonymous, said: “We’d been shopping last Wednesday and when we got home a man was standing on the kerb. He said he’d been looking at my conservatory and that I needed it cleaning. He said he’d do the work straight away and said ‘I can do it for you for four fifty’. That sounded fair but I didn’t realise he meant £450. I thought he meant £4.50.
“He was a friendly, sociable chap and I fell for it. He was with a young lad who looked about 21-years-old. It was the younger lad who did all the work. They were in a big white van. My friend said I should have taken the registration number down but I never thought because I trust people.
“I could kick myself now and what’s happened makes me feel scared as well as angry and stupid. I didn’t get anything in writing and didn’t even get a receipt.”
The woman, who paid by cheque, said she hadn’t called the number on a leaflet she received from the older workman because she was scared of what might happen.
Voluntary Action Melton gardening co-ordinator Chris McCluskey, heard what had happened to the woman from one of her neighbours.
He said: “I’d have charged her £40 for the work she had done. She should have been charged £150 at the most for what was only a couple of hours’ work.
“I got involved because this lady needed help and there’s a lot of other vulnerable people who need help and who need to be aware of who they’re letting in their gardens. It’s disgusting that there’s someone out there who is ripping off old ladies.”
David Bull, head of Leicestershire County Council’s Trading Standards Service, said: “I’m concerned about this case and it’s one we need to investigate further. We would encourage people in their local community to look out for friends and neighbours and alert us to signs of any suspicious work being carried out.”
Joe Orson, Leicestershire County Council cabinet member for Trading Standards, said: “My advice is to never deal with anyone who is cold calling. Reputable traders do not pressure people on the doorstep. We would always recommend people gain three quotes before having any work carried out and ask for personal recommendations from friends, family and neighbours.
I urge anyone with similar concerns to report to us via the Citizens Advice Consumer helpline on 03454 04 05 06.”