Ways you spot a rogue aerial and satellite installer. (Part 1)
Ok so I have decided to jump on the bandwagon here. I personally feel all of these Rogue Trader programmes are too many and just prey on the general public’s nervousness. Yes, Rogue Traders can ruin people’s lives but the overwhelming vast majority of traders are just good ordinary people who just want to get by in life.
Nevertheless, here it is anyway. Because this is quite a long blog, I have divided this up into two parts. Part 1 is things to look out for before you use the trader or company and Part 2 is things to look out for during and after installation.
DISCLAIMER Please note that I’m not saying that anyone who is guilty of the points I raised here is automatically a Rogue Trader. For example there must be thousands of skilled traders and good guys who only use a mobile phone and have a naff website or none at all. (Points 2 and 6) I’m sure you get my point.
1) No fixed registered or trading address
If no information can be found about where this tradesmen or company can be found I would encourage you to advise you to ask them prior to using them together with some form of proof. Trading addresses should appear of invoices, letterheads and websites and it is a legal requirement for registered company addresses to be disclosed on invoices too. Without proof of location you could be dealing with someone miles away or someone in no fixed location. Although they may perform a perfectly fine installation, they may not be in a position where they can honour guarantees, warranties etc.
2) Mobile phone number only.
Similar to the address how can you be sure where this trade is based and how can you be sure that your call will be dealt with properly? Owing to the nature of the aerial and satellite trade. As most jobs only take a couple of hours a high volume is required to trade successfully meaning lots of enquires and phone calls. Being in the position myself after a few months of trading, it proved impossible to complete installations in a prompt manner and give the phone calls and enquiries the attention they deserved. Although with VOIP telephone numbers and call diverting a landline telephone number isn’t proof of geographical location, it does give more information on a service and the business’ attitude to phone calls and enquiries than a mobile only telephone number.
3) No information can be found on them
It sounds slightly obvious this one. But if for example you receive a leaflet through the door and the company hasn’t been directly recommended to you or you haven’t heard of them. If you are interested in using their service. I would advise spending at least 10 minutes doing a little research on them through a Google search or something similar. This should reveal something about them including accreditations, trading history with reviews or testimonials available. If you can’t find anything, it may be something as innocent as they are a completely new company but it could also be something less innocent such as a rogue company hiding behind a different trading name or no company at all.
4) Lack of accreditations
Although you can’t necessarily use these categorical proof that your engineer is not a rogue as rogues do exist with some form of accreditation. It does go some way close to ensuring that your engineer is not. Most trade bodies or organisations have a minimum set of requirements to be eligible. Including minimum liability cover etc. Unlike other trades such as gas engineers who are required by law to be Gas Safe Registered. This doesn’t exist within the aerial or satellite trade so any memberships to trade organisations are usually an effort from the company to separate themselves from the cowboys. Also it is worth considering how that trades accreditations may benefit you, the consumer. For instance we can offer “Double Backed Guarantees” and refer to ourselves as being “Trading Standards Approved”. Find out how here:
5) Lack of or inadequate liability cover
Your chosen trade may not have this or feel that they don’t need it. But almost all the time damage caused whilst at work are an accident and no one can say that they won’t have an accident. Tradesmen insurance ultimately covers you! It is also worth noting that just having liability cover doesn’t necessarily mean that it is suitable for the nature of services provided. For example an aerial installer without cover for ladder work wouldn’t be much use would it? Proof of insurance should also be provided upon request.
6) Poorly designed website
It may just be that the company or trader doesn’t value their online presence. Or they designed the website themselves or on a budget. But in our opinion a company’s attitude to their site can say a lot about their service. A site should the company’s brochure, full of information and useful content. But beware, two companies on BBC’s Rogue Traders had rather fancy sites that were designed to suck people in.
7) A company that promises too much
Don’t get me wrong the company may offer truly unbeatable customer service and as close as, but day after day I come across stories where companies had failed to deliver on their promises. Including “Beat any Quote”, “No call out charges” and my favourite “Same Day Service”. It’s not beyond the realms of possibility that all of these can be possible but you should ask yourself. How do they beat any quote? Are they using inferior products? Why is there no call out charge? I can see how this would be attractive for the customer but why for the company? How can they truly say that they can offer a same day service? How do they already know before you call that day that they can fit you in? Or why are they not booked up already?
8) Low, low, low prices. Or so it seems.
As mentioned above there have been two national companies with spectacular websites that are advertising aerial installations for ridiculously low prices. As low as £47 to be exact. Several years ago I asked how they are possibly doing this (I mean material costs alone would take this above), well the answer is that they are not. In the most recent episode of ‘Rogue Traders’ the aerial installer charged a customer £300 for a job that would have cost us £60 including VAT for us to complete. Hypothetically speaking had we done the same as them and miss-sold a new aerial. It would have still cost just over half the price, all the while they are advertising this service “As low as £47”.
9) Free consultation, with a brochure/ catalogue. For an aerial???
This point has been added simply because there is a company going around and offering free consultations with every TV aerial installation. While this may seem like a good thing, it was mentioned to be by a customer that a catalogue is handed out displaying all the aerial options that the company install for the customer to pick out which one they would like. If you come across this please be mindful that it is the installer’s job for the application. An aerial that is appropriate for one house may not be suitable or even work for a house down the road or even the neighbour’s house. Not all aerials work in all locations. A high gain wideband aerial could be the closest thing to an all in one TV aerial that you will get, but even these are not always suitable and largely unnecessary and will only add to the final bill. This practice is nothing more than an attempt to sell an aerial for more money hoping that the customer will opt for a more expensive one. I’m sure some people are capable of are selecting the most appropriate on a list but decision shouldn’t be made solely by the customer and the customer certainly shouldn’t be held accountable for the choice of aerial installed.
By all means invite the trader round for an estimate or quote. Even just for a meet up so you can get a feel for who you may be employing. But beware if they pull out the catalogue.
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