A father and son team of “rogue traders” have been sentenced after Bury pensioners were left thousands of pounds out of pocket for work carried out on their homes.
Steven Lee (aged 49) and his son, also called Steven (aged 27), were trading as CCS Building Contractors when they cold-called elderly residents in Brandlesholme.
Lee Snr has now been sent to jail for three months, and ordered to pay compensation totaling more than £25,000 for offences dating back to 2011.
A 71-year-old victim was persuaded to hand over more than £15,000, cashing in life savings policies, to pay for the work done to the roof of her house. After being asked for a further £8,000, she spoke to her family who contacted Bury’s trading standards. She then had to bring in a reputable tradesman from the council’s registered scheme to put the job right, at a cost of a further £8,835.
A second victim, an 82-year-old man, was charged £1,500 for work to his roof. When repairs were needed, he found he was unable to contact the business, and called on trading standards for help. Investigations revealed that the address the Lees were using - 12 Bolton Road in Blackburn - was false, and their 0800 telephone number was actually billed to a mobile ‘pay as you go’ number that had not been registered to a user.
The Lees, of Rosemary Lane, Bartle, Preston, were sentenced on Friday (7 June 2013) at Bolton Crown Court for breaching the Consumer Protection laws.
Steven Lee Snr had already pleaded guilty to five offences at Bury Magistrates Court on 26 February 2013. He was sentenced to three months in prison and ordered to pay compensation to the victims totalling £25,485.60, to be paid within 12 months.
Steven Lee Jnr had also pleaded guilty to two offences at Bury Magistrates Court on the 26 February 2013. He was sentenced to a two-year community order with 150 hours of unpaid work to be completed within 12 months. He was also ordered to pay £500 costs.
In sentencing, His Honour Judge Davies said these were serious offences against people who were vulnerable.
Councillor Tony Isherwood, Bury Council’s cabinet member for environment, said: "The victims were targeted because of their age and vulnerability, and one was stripped of her life savings. At a time when they should be enjoying their retirement, they have suffered a great deal of distress and financial worries because of Lee and his son.
“Our officers will continue to take action against people like these and protect Bury residents.”
Bury Council co-ordinates a Registered Tradesman scheme which has 70-plus traders who have been vetted. The list is freely available or can be downloaded from the council’s website.
Angela Lomax of Bury trading standards advised residents to be wary of cold-callers looking for work.
“Consumers should always shop around, obtain at least three quotes, and remember that the cheapest isn't always the best,” she said.
“You should check out the business, and see if anyone you know is happy with the work they have done on their homes.”
Trading standards advise, before engaging tradesmen, ask yourself the following:
* Do they comply with rules on paperwork and do they work within the law?
* Are they happy to give you seven days to think about the job and allow a cooling-off period?
* Can you find them if something goes wrong that needs to be put right?
* Do they follow health and safety legislation i.e. use scaffolding?
* Will they obtain skip permits or have waste carriers licences to remove the rubbish?
* Are they offering special discounts for cash or to start the job straight away?
Ms Lomax added: “All these things might seem to add to the cost, but remember - if they are cutting costs now, it may cost you a lot more in the long run.”
Press release issued:
For further information please contact Peter Doherty or Katy Quinn in the council press office on 0161 253 6096 or 5007. Alternatively please email firstname.lastname@example.org