A friendly reminder, warning and cautionary tale

Hey all,

I'm just writing a reminder to all in general to be careful of allowing or not allowing someone in to a home on the promise of building work to be done or for other reasons. I want to relate a warning to all in general but specifically any who have had damage to property by the weather - such as the high winds in the UK.

Beware of who you let into your homes. If you need any building work done please try to find a builder you know or have had recommended to do the work.

The events I relate below (for any as want to read) were, at best, unfortunate but there is no real harm done to my family. I would not want anyone to have such a bad experience though.


Recently there have been problems in the area I live with high winds and heavy rain and as a result of the weather the roof of my home got damaged and needed repairs. Coincidentally we have had fitters in fitting a new kitchen.

As the fitters where finishing installing our new kitchen yesterday and while I was out, there was a knock at the door and when my mother answered there was a young man and he said he was the builder come to fix the roof. Mum had not called either of the three builders we know as time had not allowed so she agreed to let this stranger do the work on the roof. (I guess you can guess what is coming!)

The strange builder and his gang had arrived in a tatty old van with no signage and the quote given suddenly doubled as the guys 'found' more problems. I arrived home and could not believe (though it was abundantly true) that mum had let these strangers start work on the roof. As a rule, we never buy goods or services at the door so to say and I have two signs to that affect - one in the kitchen window the other in the door window (both front of house).

I kept quiet about my thoughts about the strange builders and when asked by mum I started out to go get the money to pay for the work being done. As I was leaving home the 'chief' builder stopped me saying he needed to talk to mum and could I wait. The builder then said more work was needed and doubled the price again. Foolishly and even though I objected, mum agreed to have the work done - work as it turns out that was not done fully as explained by the builder or even to a good standard.

I thought that was that - the work was done and paid for and the builders left. To my surprise though I was awakened this morning by sounds of ladders being propped against the house. I had slept late as I had not slept well through the night. That's right! It was the strange builders again and my dad had let them in as they told him they had one more roof tile to fix at no extra cost. I went downstairs to see what was going on only to find the chief intimidating my dad and trying to get him to agree to yet more work being done at yet more cost.

So! Trying to keep it short. I had words with the chief and told him not to continue the work he had started today and not to expect payment as we had not agreed to the work and he should not have started it. Furthermore we do not keep cash in the house. There was a heated exchange with the builder and he started getting quite aggressive so I told him to leave or I would call the police. The chief would not stop! He angrily insisted that we had agreed to the work and that he would not of started without agreement and also started to become more aggressive and abusive and threatening. Dad phoned the police and the chief asked what was that for. At that point I sent the builders off telling the chief the police where coming - the builders left in a hurry.

My dad and me had a long conversation with a very sympathetic police woman about what had happened. Though no actual crime was committed, the police woman told us her colleagues where tracking the builders van and hoped to catch them so as to tell them that although they committed no crime as such their practices of aggressive sales, threats and intimidation where unacceptable and to generally 'warn them off'.

So! My family has just had a bad experience with 'jobbing' builders who where seemingly just greedy and trying to 'milk' us for as much as they could get. Yes! I agree that, as a family, we should have turned the strange builders away as soon as they knocked. We are generally a very 'clued up' family as I noted earlier but even we fell for the charm of these strangers.

I would bet many people have been taken in by these sort of people at one time or another. They tend to prey on the elderly, if you had answered the door Michael, things would probably have turned out differently.

Where I live, we get a lot of young men going door to door selling outrageously priced goods such as dusters etc. They always start off by saying that they are young offenders from outside the area, trying to get a new start. They, like the builders, are very pushy and difficult to turn away, I can see how they could appear threatening to an elderly person. I know someone who felt so intimidated that she paid £7 (about $10) for a dishcloth!

Every now and then we need to be reminded to be cautious of cold callers. xB

Thank you for posting this. It’s a good reminder for us anytime and especially during times of extreme weather conditions.

Good reminder. I don't even answer the door to strangers. Unless I can see a delivery (FedEx or UPS) truck in front that I'm expecting.

I also have a "No Solicitation" sign on my door. Before I put that up, I had someone stopping by daily. I would never buy anything from a door salesperson. Never. We have the Better Business Bureau here in the US. You can look up a company online and make a call to get a bid on a job.

My only exception to this are Boy Scouts in uniform. The sign on the door says just that. :-)

Thanks for the "heads up", Michael! I'm glad no one was physically hurt, as this can be a big concern! I'm with you, Julie, as I never open the door to ANYONE, except UPS, Fed-X or someone I know (like a neighbor). You can't be too cautious now a days! ;o)

Thanks all for the replies,

As I noted, we have two 'We don't buy at the door' type signs. We also have a non recording camera at the door that connects to a small TV so we can see who is calling. It just happened that circumstance meant mum had her guard down when the strangers called. I suppose it can happen to anyone! We also have CCTV type cameras around the outside of the house and, at the request of the police, I have now put the recordings of the 'builders' on a disk - not for evidence as such but more for reference if the police need it.

Anyway! Thanks again all. Stay well, stay warm and stay safe.

Best regards,


Edit: Remember in the UK we have 'check a trade' (.com)! The police woman recommend we use it if need because we will likely get a trustworthy trades person from there and, importantly, we would have a record for evidence - again only if needed.

Sorry about your experience. On the news the other day, a couple of men posing as contractors distracted an elderly lady in a wheelchair, and then robbed her when she was not looking. So sad.

Yes, that is so sad Bob in st louis! Older people are so trusting! That's what makes them so vulnerable. My uncle (93) will listen to solicitors when they call, and in the past, has given money to any organization. We (the family) talked with him and shared our concerns, therefore, he doesn't do this anymore. Also, my younger sister and brother-in-law work for Veterans Administration (VA). My parents (83 and 85) received a call from an organization asking for money on the behalf of veterans. My parents didn't give over the phone, although they said to send literature in the mail. My sister said it was a scam, as she had never heard of them before. Thanks to Michael's reminder, these are worthy warnings for all! Unfortunately, it's hard to know who to trust now-a-days! ;o)