Do trade websites attract cowboy builders and tradespeople who have a poor reputation? How do you filter out the good from the bad?
Websites like Trustatader and Checkatrader do come under criticism from time to time because they claim to filter tradespeople. However, some of the less desirable elements of the industry still slip through the net. To filter, you need to get more than one quote and ask for references, not reviews.
How do I know if a tradesman is legit?
Never go by appearances. Your tradesman should belong to a professional body, and you can check that way, But if not, you can take several steps to verify their credentials.
- Do they have a liveried vehicle?
- Ask for copies of their public liability insurance, don’t let a tradesman work in your home without the correct insurance cover.
- Ask for references, and not reviews from a website often, reviews are written anonymously and cannot be verified.
- Check with your local council for a list of accredited tradespeople.
- Use a website that has previously vetted the tradesperson and offers guarantees.
- Check accreditations such as NICEIC, and you can phone for verification.
With so many horror stories about rogue tradespeople, you must find the right tradesperson who will deliver your job to your expectations without overcharging you.
How do I find good tradesmen in the UK?
There are many ways. You can start by taking the easy route and contact someone like Trustatrader, it will cost you nothing to use the service, and they have thousands of registered tradespeople ready to offer you a quote.
Is there only Trustatrader? No, you can also approach any websites offering the services of tradespeople, such as Checkatrader.
Check with your council. If you have more than one council, choose the one that is more pertinent to you, like the county council, which will have listings of registered tradespeople.
How reliable is TrustATrader?
Probably quite reliable. Thousands of tradespersons are registered with TrustATrader, so you will have to make a judgment call if you believe that every trader is legit.
Now for some trades, TrustATrader will accept their business without fees, and these are professional trades like electricians who are qualified and registered as competent with an accredited industry body.
If you are an electrician, who is registered with NICEIC or one of the other accreditation companies, your qualifications are not doubted.
However, you should never read reviews and think this is the company for me and hire them directly from a review.
The reviews on TrustATrader should be viewed as being 50/50 legit, which leaves you to make your own assessment.
How do I make a claim for poor workmanship?
It’s a hassle. The whole purpose of using TrustATrader was to find someone you trust. That’s what the name implies, correct?
But yet you find yourself having to negotiate yourself out of a bad spot. It’s unfair.
This is what Trustader suggests you do to expedite the resolution:
- Gather evidence. Take photos of the problems.
- Speak to your trader. Call the builder to let them know you’re unhappy with the work and how you want them to put it right.
- Start a formal complaint.
- Use an Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) scheme.
- Contact trading standards
Why did you use TrustATrader? The best way to expedite and resolve the matter is to collate the evidence as suggested and send it to a solicitor to act on your behalf, suing both TrustATrader and the tradesperson without delay.
Can I trust Checkatrade?
No, trust no one when it comes to tradespeople. The whole premise of Checkatrade is to use the internet as an online verification for tradespeople and building companies.
This is how they get these trades to register with Checkatrade. If you join Checkatrade, they will try to establish your business as legit, regardless of whether you are.
If the site can establish a tradesperson as trustworthy and worth employing, that’s great, but how do they vet the cowboys in the industry? They don’t.
Checkatrade reviews are written anonymously, good, bad and indifferent, and what’s worse is if the tradesperson gets a bad review from a client, they can get the review removed, leaving the unscrupulous tradesperson to strike again.
Do Checkatrade post negative reviews?
Yes. However, the reviews can be removed if the tradesperson comes up with a resolution to correct the customer’s complaint.
You could argue that there should never be an occasion for a resolution to a problem with professional tradespeople. The job should be completed correctly on time and within budget.
Of course, tradespeople carry tools and not magic wands and things can go wrong, but it should not be a fault of shoddy quality that creates the need for a bad review.
How are reviews verified on Checkatrade?
Unless you supply personal details, they are not verified. Checkatrade claims they spot check reviews to verify, but how if the consumer has not supplied details? It’s a farce.
Companies like Checkatrade and TrustAtrader exist to make money, and the only way this is achievable is to attract tradespeople and potential customers. It is not in their interests to have a site full of bad reviews.
What checks does Checkatrade do?
Not enough. Checkatrade only does the clerical checks such as creditworthiness, insurance, proof of ID and address, and to be honest, these are all credible checks and are needed to clean up the tradesman’s bad image.
They also ask for 5 customer recommendations, which again could be spurious as onsite checks are not conducted.
TrustATrader vs Checkatrade
Both have their merits and are worth evaluating as customers and traders.
As a trader, you should ask, will this increase your profile or tarnish your good reputation? Will it increase your business or make you one of a list of tradespeople searching for local work?
For the consumer, either company is not as good as they would like to be, and for that reason, you have to undertake your own due diligence before hiring a tradesperson.