Travelling conmen warning after reports in Geraldton

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Consumer Protection is once again warning consumers not to deal with ‘bitumen bandits’ who offer to lay driveways on-the-spot with material supposedly leftover from another job and then leave town before you can challenge them about their shoddy work and materials.

Reports received by Consumer Protection’s Mid-West office suggest that two men in high-visibility work clothes, driving a white ute with a New South Wales plate, are approaching home and business owners in Geraldton with the offer of drive-way laying services.

Commissioner for Consumer Protection Anne Driscoll says carrying out work there and then is a sign of a travelling conman.

“Any tradesperson that approaches a consumer uninvited and carries out the job immediately is breaking the Australian Consumer Law by failing to allow a 10-day cooling off period for the customer to think over the unsolicited offer,” she said.

“Experience tells us that travelling conmen can be convincing salespeople and mislead consumers about the value of the work being carried out and quality or source of the materials being used. They have been known to pressure the vulnerable or elderly and have even driven some customers to the bank and used stand-over tactics to get them to withdraw cash.”

The Commissioner says because ‘bitumen bandits’ usually avoid staying in one place for too long that the warning is relevant to all Western Australians.

“Once local authorities such as police and consumer protection officers are aware that these operators are targeting the area, alerts are issued, which can prevent the travelling conmen from convincing further consumers to part with money.

“For that reason all home and business owners in WA, not just those in Geraldton, should shop around for quotes and use local reputable tradespeople when having work carried out.

“Ordinarily if you have a problem with a service, such as a bitumen driveway laid too thinly or of inferior quality, you can seek a repair, replacement or refund under the Australian Consumer Law. However, when travelling conmen come to you unannounced and with limited identification your opportunity to find them and exercise your rights is extremely limited.”

Report travelling conmen by calling Consumer Protection: 1300 30 40 54 with descriptions of the offenders, personal or business names used and vehicle registration numbers if possible.

Media contact (Consumer Protection)

Consumer Protection
Media release
23 Jul 2015

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