A BBC Inside Out investigation has cast huge doubts over using ‘trustworthy trader’ websites such as Rated People and MyBuilder, after it was found that fake profiles could be readily created on both the websites. While many of these types of sites have screening processes in place, an Inside Out reporter managed to set up a handyman profile on both Rated People and MyBuilder, whilst also submitting fake positive feedback and five-star ratings on his own listing. With the help of friends, he could even post and win bogus jobs, making his profile look all the more legitimate.
So where do you go to now if you need to find an honest tradesperson? Kevin Wellman CEO of the Chartered Institute of Plumbing & Heating Engineering (CIPHE) had the following to say, “Over the years we have seen a number of big, money making, online portals grow, fronted by celebrities and big marketing budgets, offering to match consumers with tradespeople in their area. While there is no doubt these type of online tools can have their place, it is also implied that all tradespeople have been pre-vetted for competence, experience and professionalism, but this is simply not always the case.”
“Whether you are using a trustworthy trader website, word of mouth recommendation or searching for a tradesperson via local adverts, we always advise that consumers get at least three quotes for the work. Meet your tradesperson, verify their credentials (professional memberships, accreditations, insurances etc), get a full written quote and ask for references. Don’t be embarrassed to ask questions, they really won’t mind and see it all as an everyday part of the quote process. If anything doesn’t feel right, then find another tradesperson.”
Kevin added, “The CIPHE has been in effect running one of the original ‘trustworthy trader’ sites through its online ‘Find a Plumber’ search tool at www.ciphe.org.uk. We know first-hand how important it is to verify that tradespeople have the skills, experience and qualifications they claim to hold. We also back this up with a tried and tested complaints procedure. This is why every CIPHE member chooses to abide by a 6-point Code of Professional Standards and holds industry recognised qualifications / experience to be accepted into membership and subsequently be available via our Find a Plumber tool, a resource that really can be trusted by consumers.”