We hope you’re having a wonderful Summer; we’re nostalgic about mythical 1976 that we (nearly!) all remember around here and we’ll share some of our highs from this season in a later post.
But first, worrying news came to us from a valued and longstanding customer two weeks ago.
This elderly woman lives alone in the centre of Basingstoke town. When she answered her door, “Tree Surgeons” looking very smartly dressed in new and shiny yellow and green Personal Protective Equipment (we wear RED) told her that they had been sent by Andrew at Primary Tree Surgeons to cut down her Horse Chestnut tree. They offered to do the work for £200.
She has been dealing with us for many years and is well-used to Andrew visiting her whenever she is considering tree work, and to receiving a full written quotation before anything is done. She also lives in a conservation area and trusts us to apply for the legal permission required by Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council on her behalf every time we have worked on the tree over the last 20 or so years. None of that was of any importance to the men on her doorstep.
When she questioned where Andrew was, the two men told her he was working around the corner on another job nearby but had sent them to see her. She wasn’t fooled and continued to question. The more she questioned, the more aggressive they became. They gave up only when she asked to see and speak to Andrew.
Our customer is a competent, confident and capable woman. She contacted us immediately and also phoned Trading Standards to give them a full report. We contacted Hampshire County Council and the Police since these were not only intimidating people but were also making false claims; both Trading Standards and the Police are making enquiries.
Of course, there will always be a market for people to buy services at the door. These services are rarely if ever backed up by insurance, training, health and safety, proper working conditions or adequate wages but customers must have a choice. Claiming to be us, though, using Andrew’s name and telling a story that he had sent them to persuade an older woman to buy from them at the door was a new low for us.
So what can be done?
Hampshire County Council Trading Standards run a scheme called Buy With Confidence to check and verify legitimate professional contractors. They came out to our business and asked us to provide a wide and varied portfolio of evidence about Primary Tree Surgeons, how it’s run, how we deal with all aspects of our contact with customers, along with references, testimonies and evidence of lots of customer’s experience of using us. We’re pleased to have been part of this scheme for many years.
Here’s the link to their advice:
Ultimately, we’re curious (and a bit frustrated, to be honest) about whether there is any will in reality to examine the dealings of and hold to account the untrained, uninsured, unprofessional imposters like those we came across in this recent situation.
What else to say, but buyer beware…