A drainage engineer from Bournemouth has been prosecuted and ordered to pay over £9,000 after he misled a 94-year-old woman about work done at her West Parley home.
On 18 September 2019, at Poole Magistrates’ Court, Brendon James White, aged 26, of Cheriton Avenue, Bournemouth, pleaded guilty to two offences under the Consumer Protection From Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 of misleading a consumer while carrying out drainage work at their property. He entered his guilty plea just before the start of a two-day trial.
The court heard how one evening, in May 2018, Brendon White called, uninvited, at a 94-year-old woman’s home in West Parley, East Dorset and offered to carry out a free CCTV inspection of the drains. During the inspection he told her that a drain was blocked.
After clearing it he went on to state there were a large amount of roots growing into in the drainage system, there were displaced joints and that the drains required lining. She paid £3,435 on her bank card while Mr White carried on with the drain lining work.
The woman’s daughter was later concerned and contacted Dorset Council Trading Standards who arranged for an expert to examine the drains. The drainage expert found that there was no evidence of any work having been required and he reported that roots were highly unlikely to have grown into the drains in any event. He valued the work that may have been required at only £172.
In sentencing, the Magistrates stated that the work had been unnecessary and excessive and that Mr White had taken advantage of the victim due to her age and vulnerability. Brendon White was fined £2970 and ordered to pay £3000 towards prosecution costs, compensation to the consumer of £3262.44 and a £170 victim surcharge.
Councillor Anthony Alford, Portfolio Holder for Customer, Community and Regulatory Services at Dorset Council said:
“Tackling rogue traders that prey on vulnerable consumers is a priority area of work for our trading standards team. All traders have a legal responsibility to ensure that they do not make false claims to consumers about the work required or the work they have done and our officers will continue to intervene in cases like these.
“If you are concerned that you or someone you know has been a victim of a similar crime or want to report something to trading standards, then call the Citizens Advice consumer service, the first contact point for any complaints to Trading Standards.”
The national Citizens Advice consumer service can be contacted by telephoning 03454 04 05 06 or visiting www.citizensadvice.org.uk/consumer.
Consumers needing work done on their home can look for a trader who is a member of the trading standards ‘Buy With Confidence’ trader approval scheme. Members are audited by Trading Standards prior to acceptance in the scheme. Find out more at: https://www.buywithconfidence.gov.uk/home/.