Rogue builder ordered to pay £7,400 by trading standards

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A rogue trader has been ordered to pay thousands of pounds by West Sussex Trading Standards officers for failing to carry out agreed work.

The case into Matthew Cohen followed investigations into complaints from consumers.

Each reported having been either cold called or been recommended Cohen by a friend, neighbour or relative. After agreeing contracts with them in their homes, consumers were asked to pay deposit monies up front, which they paid.

They then they had trouble getting in contact with Cohen for work to be done.

Some had no work done at all, others had only preparatory work. In no case was the work for the complainants completed, or money fully or partially refunded.

Cohen, latterly of Small Dole, Henfield, and who traded as M C Driveways, admitted four offences when he appeared before Worthing magistrates on Friday. (April 19)

These were:-

• Two offences of engaging in an unfair commercial practice by displaying an FMB (Federation of Master Builders) logo on contract documentation when he was not authorised to do so because he was not a member when the documents were issued.

• Failure to perform agreed driveway or building services for five consumers, who had paid him money to do so, and failure to return the money for that non-performance. Both of these are offences under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations (CPR) 2008.

• Failure to provide a written cancellation notice to a consumer when a contract was agreed in her home – an offence under Cancellation of Contracts Made in a Consumer’s Home or Place of Work etc Regulations 2008.

Cohen was fined £2,500 and ordered to pay compensation of £1,900 and £3,000 in costs.

Philip Lipscomb, Operations Manager for West Sussex County Council’s Trading Standards, said: “It is vitally important that consumers are not misled when buying products and services and they should have confidence when dealing with West Sussex businesses.

“In this case, consumers have suffered significant financial loss and stress. Prosecutions like these show we will always take action against rogue traders in order to support the legitimate business economy and protect consumers.”

To help consumers choose reputable traders West Sussex Trading Standards operates a trader assurance scheme called Buy With Confidence.

See WSCC website www.westsussex.gov.uk for details or call the WSCC contact centre on 01243 642124 for a free copy of the latest 2013 directory of members.