A gang of Irish travelling conmen who have been carrying out dodgy work on laying bitumen driveways as well as unauthorised painting work have been targeting Perth home owners.
Consumer Protection and the Building Commission have warned consumers not to deal with these itinerant conmen who are breaking door to door trading laws and doing roof painting and restoration work without being registered.
Consumer Protection officers, assisted by WA Police, attended a home in Chidlow on Wednesday (20 March) where the so-called Bitumen Bandits were laying the foundations of a new driveway with the aim of issuing on-the-spot fines for breaches of the Australian Consumer Law.
Police officers recovered a stolen truck at a Mt Helena property and issued a work order on a ute at the Chidlow property. Two Irishmen fled another Chidlow property earlier in the day when approached by Consumer Protection officers.
The Building Commission is also investigating reports from two Kingsley residents who had paid for roof painting and restoration work to be done on their home last month by the same men. Earlier reports from consumers suggested the gang was operating in other suburbs including Armadale, Ballajura, Marangaroo, Mt Nasura, Spearwood and Yangebup.
Commissioner for Consumer Protection Anne Driscoll said the Irish travelling conmen hire local workmen who may not realise they are involved in an illegal operation.
"We have received reports that the gang’s ringleaders advertise for workmen on Gumtree who are then used as unskilled labour to carry out the work which requires a degree of care and skill, as well as a registration in the case of roof restoration and painting," Ms Driscoll said.
"Home owners are advised to avoid these conmen who do sub-standard work at inflated prices but make consumers believe they are getting a good deal. Consumers need to get several quotes from reputable tradespeople before agreeing to the work being carried out and handing over any money.
"Consumers who are approached by door to door tradespeople have a cooling off period of ten business days and businesses are breaking the law if they carry out any work or accept any money during this period."
Building Commissioner Peter Gow advised home owners to only deal with registered people for painting work over $1,000 or building work over $20,000 in value.
"Asking to see details of a contractor’s licence and independently verifying it before agreeing to any major building or painting work on your property is the vital first step towards protecting yourself from dodgy dealers," Mr Gow said.
"This should ensure your contractor measures up in terms of having the necessary qualifications, knowledge, experience and insurance to carry out work that meets the minimum building standards and complies with building regulations."
To report Bitumen Bandits, contact Consumer Protection on 1300 30 40 54 or email firstname.lastname@example.org – and to report unregistered painters, contact the Building Commission on 1300 489 099 or by email email@example.com. Information such as vehicle registration numbers, descriptions of the itinerant traders and names or business details given would be very useful. Also, consumer can check if a builder or painter is registered on the ‘Find a Registered Building Service Provider’ section of the Building Commission website www.buildingcommission.wa.gov.au.
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(Consumer Protection and the Building Commission are divisions of the Department of Commerce)
Alan Hynd, Consumer Protection
9282 0961 or 0429 078791
Amanda Iannuzzi, Building Commission
9476 1335 or 0407 448 239