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Fine for rogue trader who took £3,000 upfront payment for work he never did

20 December 2017

Trading Standards teams across Bridgend County Borough, Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan are issuing urgent warnings to residents about making upfront payments to tradesmen who call at their homes.

The advice follows the prosecution of a local trader who was paid £3,000 upfront by a Brackla resident after offering to lay hardstanding at their property.

Craig Hearne, from Sarn, had previously completed work to the resident’s garden and also came recommended by a neighbour.

A full payment of £3,000 was made by the resident via a bank transfer to Mr Hearne in May 2016, despite him failing to issue any paperwork for the work, which is a legal requirement.

Although the resident kept in touch with Mr Hearne via phone and text, and he kept making promises to start the work, he never returned to their property.

Mr Hearne then claimed that he had sold the business to someone else and that he would pass on the new owner’s contact details, but he never did so.

The elusive Mr Hearne could no longer be contacted after that point so, in August 2016, the resident reported their complaint to Shared Regulatory Services - the body responsible for Trading Standards in Bridgend County Borough, Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan.

Chair of the Joint Committee for Shared Regulatory Services, Councillor Dhanisha Patel said: “Our officers tried to contact Mr Hearne by phone but there was never any answer. Messages were also left for him to contact us, but he failed to respond.

“Letters to Mr Hearne went unanswered and he failed to turn up for two interviews, while on two occasions when officers visited him at home, there was no answer. We did everything we could before taking the next steps.”

The remaining option was to prosecute Mr Hearne but he failed to turn up to court on several occasions so a warrant was issued for his arrest.

On 7 December 2017, he was arrested in Neath and taken into custody. He appeared in Cardiff Magistrates Courtthat afternoon and pleaded guilty to all charges.

Mr Hearne was fined £500 and was ordered to refund the complainant’s £3,000 in full as well as victim surcharge and legal costs.

Councillor Patel added: “This case serves as a warning to residents to avoid paying such large amounts of money to traders up front, especially where there is no written contract in place. Any reasonable trader will ask for a small percentage to be paid up front with further payments in stages or upon completion.

“Keep your money safe in your bank account until you are satisfied that the work has been completed and contact us if you believe you’ve been pressured into making a payment.”

Residents can contact Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 03454 040506 to register complaints, which are then made available for Shared Regulatory Services to assess.

 

Last Updated: 20/12/2017
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