A VALE roofer who ‘took advantage’ of a vulnerable old lady when she needed her roof mended has been fined nearly £5,000.
Wayne Smith, 37, of Lower Moor, Pershore, pleaded guilty at Worcester Magistrates Court on Thursday, June 1st to five offences under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008.
The case was brought by Worcestershire County Council’s Trading Standards service after an investigation into a roofing job by Smith, trading as Progress Roofing, in Malvern in March last year.
The court heard the victim in her 80’s had employed Progress Roofing to carry out minor repairs to the roof of her property.
However, Smith was found to have carried out extra unnecessary work, charged unreasonably high prices and carried out substandard and incomplete work.
It was also found his business wasn’t endorsed by the Rated People website, despite Smith’s claims.
Smith had been known to the householder having previously carried out work on the property.
The victim, who had expected to pay ‘a few hundred pounds’ for simple repair works, had tried to borrow money to pay the £2,500 Smith attempted to charge her after works had begun.
Trading Standards officers intervened after being alerted to the issue by a concerned neighbour and no money changed hands.
An independent building surveyor was then brought in to investigate the work and concluded battening and felting works carried out were unnecessary and incomplete.
The surveyor also found mortar work on the roof and chimney was so poor that remedial work is now required to correct it and the works as carried out should in any case have cost £1,160.
Magistrates also heard in 2011 Smith had signed a formal warning about his trading practices with another authority.
Sentencing Smith, magistrates him he ‘took advantage of a vulnerable old lady of few means and caused her great distress’ and said the ‘work was in poor state and you overcharged for it.’
After taking into account Smith’s limited finances, they fined him £620 and costs of £3,722. The victim was awarded £525 in compensation. And with a victim surcharge of £30 the total payable was £4,897.
Simon Wilkes, Head of Worcestershire Regulatory Services which oversees trading standards, said: “We all hope that traders will give us genuine estimates around necessary work at a reasonable price.
“The regulations breached in this case replaced much of the old Trade Descriptions Act and continue to protect both consumers and the reputable traders who work properly at a reasonable cost.”