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The Rogue Trader Myth: Protect Yourself With Business Insurance

By Dean Laming on May 26th, 2022

As a tradesman, your potential customers could get scammed. For example, someone could come knocking at their door, claim to be a professional in a particular field, and offer services they know little or nothing about for a fee. These are called rogue traders or cowboys.

Rogue trading has gained increasing notoriety for decades. However, people need to know that not all salespersons who come calling or knocking at their doors want to scam them. As a genuine tradesman, you must differentiate yourself from the rogue traders and command the trust of your customers.

  1. How Do Rogue Traders Operate?
  2. How To Identify Rogue Traders
    1. Cold Calling
    2. Unbelievable Discounts
    3. Insisting on Upfront Payment
    4. Insisting on Cash Payment
    5. Poor Knowledge of the Job
    6. Unwillingness to Give a Written Quotation
    7. Withholding or Providing Wrong Personal Information
    8. Membership in Trade Associations
  3. How to Report Rogue Traders
  4. How Can You Protect Your Business Against Rogue Traders?

How Do Rogue Traders Operate?

For every rogue trader, the mission is simply to rip off unsuspecting persons of their hard-earned money. To increase their chances of success, they target the most vulnerable community members. For example, rogue traders hope to meet elderly persons at home because pensioners tend to be more receptive and unsuspecting.

A rogue trader will offer to perform a service on the house, such as fixing plumbing, roofing, security gadgets, and lawn issues. Cowboys usually charge exorbitant fees or provide outrageous discounts to lure their victims. In the end, they will render substandard service or fail to carry out the work.

Rogue traders are pretty persistent and are challenging to dismiss. As a result, they tend to hang on until they can convince the resident to sign a contract.

Also, rogue traders have a reputation for burglary. For example, a rogue trader may lure the resident out of their home while an accomplice enters the house to steal. Another tactic is convincing the resident to come to take a look at a defect on the roof or with the plumbing.

How To Identify Rogue Traders

Your customers must learn to spot rogue traders. Start by informing them that rogue traders go out of their way to appear like genuine tradespeople. First, however, your customers can identify cowboys by paying attention to some common signs.

Here are some of the characters of rogue traders your customers should look out for.

1. Cold Calling

One of the legacy tactics of rogue traders is cold-calling. An unexpected visit catches the resident unawares and gives the rogue trader an advantage. But, of course, cowboys will draw attention to any defect they notice in the house.

However, their strategy is usually to exaggerate such faults and create a sense of urgency. For example, they could spot a misplaced tile on the roof and claim that the entire roof needs a repair.

2. Unbelievable Discounts

Rogue traders have a limited time to spend with you. However, they know that the more time they spend, the higher their chances of getting discovered. Therefore, cowboys may propose unbelievable discounts to help customers make a quick decision.

One famous saying about any proposal is that if it is too good to be true, it most likely is. So, cowboys are banking on appealing to people’s need to reduce costs and save money.

3. Insisting on Upfront Payment

Cowboys love to get paid before they begin their jobs. However, your customers do not have to pay in advance before they can receive services. So, when a tradesperson insists on upfront payment, customers should stand their ground. The worst rogue traders insist on upfront payment so they can disappear at any point with profit.

4. Insisting on Cash Payment

Rogue traders make plans to leave the job undone or do shoddy work. They will likely ask their target to pay by cash and pay upfront to facilitate this plan. Cash payments remove the burden of accountability for poorly done or neglected work.

In addition, when your customers pay by cash, cowboys can disappear and not have to look over their shoulders. Alternatively, when rogue traders receive payment through their banks, the accounts can be traced, and customers can ask for a refund.

5. Poor Knowledge of the Job

Many rogue traders can pose as any kind of professional. For example, a cowboy can claim to have the expertise to fix an issue in a customer’s garden if they figured out a problem with it. However, if customers ask the right questions, they will discover the cowboys’ insufficient knowledge and lack of skills.

6. Unwillingness to Give a Written Quotation

Another way to stop rogue traders on their tracks is by demanding a written quotation. First, cowboys will have to specify the job requirements and attach costs to every item. Then, they are bound to perform the service according to what’s specified in the quotation.

Rogue traders usually shy away from quotations to avoid under-estimating costs. But, on the other hand, they could overestimate expenses to the extent that will draw the customer’s attention. If a tradesperson attempts to avoid writing a quotation, this is a red flag that customers must not ignore.

7. Withholding or Providing Wrong Personal Information

Many rogue traders attempt to withhold contact information or provide the wrong ones. Without valid contact information, they can disappear without a trace after doing substandard work.

Therefore, do not be in a hurry to sign a contract. Verify the name and address of any tradesman.

8. Membership in Trade Associations

Trade associations exist to promote the interest of tradespeople. Non-tradesmen cannot be part of these associations. You can avoid hiring the services of a rogue trader if they do not belong to a trade association.

How to Report Rogue Traders

If you have been a victim of a rogue trader, you can make a report. Besides helping other potential victims escape being conned, you can get your money back. Here are the steps to take:

  1. Round up every information you have about the rogue trader
  2. Contact Citizen’s Advice Customer Service website or call 0345 404 0506 on weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. This service is a government-initiated response service for poor or fraudulent services.

Note that you can also call 101, and if the rogue trader is still on your premises, call the police.

How Can You Protect Your Business Against Rogue Traders?

One mark of a genuine salesperson is insurance cover. To instantly verify the authenticity of a tradesman, find out if they have tradesman insurance. Tradesman insurance cover helps protect tradespeople from the common risks associated with their job.

If you are a tradesman, an insurance cover from a reputable company will set you apart from the rogues. In addition, insurance will help customers feel at ease about doing business with you.

Tradesman insurance will also empower you to fend off compensation claims that customers may initiate against you. If your equipment gets damaged or lost, tradesman insurance will cover that risk.

There are many options for tradesman insurance.  The challenge, however, is finding the one that’s right for you. Different business liability insurance companies have distinct quotes. Therefore, not every quotation will suit your needs or preferences.

At Brisco Business Insurance, we recognise the need to provide you with the options. So, we have partnered with the leading tradesman insurance providers across the U.K. You can compare quotes from different providers and find what best suits your business’ needs. Our team of business insurance experts is committed to helping you navigate the complexities of policy terms and conditions.

Dean Laming

Dean is a Chartered Insurance Broker with more than 25 years insurance experience. Through various underwriting, operational and management roles, Dean has built up extensive knowledge of how to run a business and is now Managing Director of Brisco Business, part of the wider Henry Seymour Group.

All articles by Dean Laming

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