POLICE and Trading Standards are turning the tables on cold-calling contractors who offer to fix items, sometimes at huge cost.
They are cold-calling themselves while the work is in progress to check the occupiers are totally happy.
The joint campaign builds on evidence that some cowboy contractors are also likely to be involved in distraction burglaries.
With Trading Standards heavily involved in dealing with bogus scams involving hugely over priced work, or work not done at all and the police anxious to clamp down on distraction burglaries, it made sense for the two to get together, said Andrew Rees, team leader, investigations with Cheshire Trading Standards.
Action comes in the form of a 'be safe' message and a new pro-active enforcement van.
'We are simply turning the tables and cold-calling on the cold-callers,' said Mr Rees. 'If we see drives being laid, trees being cut or plastic work being carried out to roofs, we will call and check the householder is happy.'
Trading Standards has a rapid response team which can act if information is received that all is not well.
Mr Rees said: 'We need telephone calls, registration numbers or information from flyers when the work is actually being carried out. It's difficult if they've taken the money and left.'
The advice from Trading Standards is do not to enter into doorstep deals.
'Ask around for people who can recommend a reliable and established firm,' said Mr Rees. 'Otherwise you can find yourself in trouble.'
Mr Rees quotes examples of a drive contract which was stopped, saving the occupiers £11,000 and a bill for £7,000 for work not done.
'If you have made the mistake of entering into an agreement to buy goods and services following a knock on your door, you should be given cancellation rights if the value is over £35,' said Mr Rees.
'Failure to give these cancellation rights is a criminal offence and the customer will not have to pay for the work.'
'The best advice is to crack down on doorstep crime and say no every time.
'Then call Cheshire County Council Trading Standards on 0845 1132500.'