ROGUE traders are being given the cold shoulder as Swindon Council’s Trading Standards team joins a guide that lists carefully-approved companies.
The Buy with Confidence website, a national scheme run by local authorities, lists 26 reputable businesses from the borough that are vetted and re-assessed annually.
The website is aimed at countering problems such as dodgy doorstep sales and an alleged rogue trader from Swindon who disappeared after a string of complaints.
Trading Standards officer Carla Baker said: “The aim of the scheme is to allow consumers to find reputable traders that trade fairly and legally by searching through a list of local approved traders.
“Our members cover a broad range of trades from builders to mechanics, electricians to cleaners. Traders wishing to join the scheme must apply and are then thoroughly vetted by Trading Standards.”
Traders must undergo checks, including having their complaints history reviewed and receiving a visit from Trading Standards to check they comply with consumer legislation.
Good references are required from previous customers and applicants must agree to abide by the scheme’s code of conduct.
Monitoring continues through checks for complaints and feedback forms given to customers.
Ashley Wheeler, an administrator of the scheme, said: “We often get phone calls about whether a trader is reliable or not. Before we couldn’t give out names and people had to pick through companies to make their own decision.”
The scheme has been running for 10 years, with Swindon Council becoming involved 10 months ago.
HOW IT ALL BEGAN
DODGY practices by rogue traders led a partnership of local authority trading standards team to launch the Buy With Confidence scheme in 1999.
The initiative is the largest of its kind nationally and continues to expand across the country. In order to become a member, a business must apply or be recommended to join and then pass a series of background checks, which includes a review of their complaints history and references from previous customers. The companies pay a fee to join depending on how many staff they employ. Consumers can search by name or by the type of services listed on the website.
Coun Vera Tomlinson, cabinet member for a safer and stronger borough, said: “We would always advise people to use the Buy with Confidence scheme, as the traders who are members have been through a rigorous vetting process.” Visit www.buywithconfidence.gov.uk