West Midlands Roofing Firm Directors Imprisoned
West Midland rogue traders who preyed upon elderly and vulnerable people out of thousands of pounds have been sentenced to time in prison.
After the UK’s longest trading standards investigations, the directors of Summit Roofguard Ltd we were found guilty of unfair, misleading or aggressive commercial practises.
Following a trial at Wolverhampton Crown Court in March 2016, directors Sarah Beadle and Martin Evans were jailed for 2 and half years. However, in November 2016, Evans had his sentence cut to 2 years after the Appeal Court ruled he wasn’t the ‘prime mover’ behind the scams.
General manager, Trevor Prytherch and sales employees, Derrick Fisher and Glenys Bolton were all given 12-month prison sentences, suspended for 2 years for the same offences. Salesman, Shaid Hussain was given a 9-month prison sentence, suspended for 2 years.
Summit Roofguard Ltd, which claimed to be the largest installer of guttering across the West Midlands, was brought to Dudley Council’s Trading Standard officers attention when a number of complaints were made between 2011 and 2014.
During the 4 year investigation, officers found a scripted guide, entitled ‘The 14 Steps to a Sale’ which sales staff used to trick customers by offering them a one-off deal that was available for one day only when in reality they were pressuring them into overpriced sales.
Victims were targeted in their own homes with payments obtained in full, for work that was not carried out to the required standard or did not need to be done at all.
Sales staff followed the scripted guide, which involved establishing unreasonably inflated prices, pitches lasting up to 6 hours, calls to the sale managers and confidentiality clauses in contracts to keep the deals secret from the victim’s loved ones and neighbours.
Judge Amjad Nawaz described the 14 Step guide as a “complete sham” and said: “You can just imagine the pressure, particularly if they (the victims) are old or alone or confused. The inference is, they (the sales staff) were there and not going to leave until they got the signature on the dotted line.”
An 86-year old dementia suffer was tricked into purchasing new windows and guttering which were already installed new 4 years earlier.
One victim paid £20,000, including interest on a loan they couldn’t afford, for guttering that could have been repaired for £40. Another victim paid over £9,000 for work that should have cost no more than £3,000.
Many customers could not afford the work without agreeing to take out finance, which was a key element in the 14 Step guide. This meant the victims had to pay significantly more than the already extortionate price.
The firm rewarded its ‘best’ sales people with holidays to New York and Monaco for scamming vulnerable people on a daily basis.