Homes and Garden Solutions Admit Trading Offences
Newcastle firm Home and Garden Solutions pleaded guilty to three offences under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008.
Sentencing took place at Newcastle Crown Court in October 2014, where owner Craig Pollard and salesman Andrew Stevens were given a 3-month sentence suspended for 12 months, 150 hours of unpaid work and a fine of £6,000 in compensation to their victims.
The pair conned elderly and vulnerable people out of thousands of pounds for sub-standard roofing work. The court heard that they cold-called a number of homes in North Tyneside where they told homeowners that there were problems with their roofs. The company then proceeded to pressure them into signing illegal contracts for work to be carried out as quickly as possible. This denied homeowners the opportunity to seek advice and the contracts failed to identify the business owner and the homeowners rights to cancel a contract. The law gives consumers a cooling-off period of 14 days to cancel and failure to do this is illegal. In one case, Home and Garden Solutions started work the same day as when the contract was signed, so the resident had no chance to change their mind.
The work that the company was carrying out including installing a roofing product known as Glass Reinforced Plastic (GRP), which is commonly referred to as Fibreglass; it is a type of fibre-reinforced plastic using glass fibre. This material should typically provide, tough, reliable and durable roofs. However, the company failed to remove the existing felt from the product and therefore it was ineffective.
The work carried out by Home and Gardens Solutions was examined by an independent chartered surveyor who found numerous defects in the workmanship and deemed it well below the standard expected of the average tradesperson.
One consumer contacted Newcastle Trading Standards, who began an investigation into the company, which led to the prosecution.
Speaking after the court’s decision, cabinet member for Housing and Environment, Cllr John Harrison said: “The council will not stand for this type of behaviour and will always use its powers to go after and prosecute anyone who cons and tricks residents.”