‘Trustworthy trader’ sites condemned in BBC investigation

DIY damage

In Consumer Advice, Heating Engineers, Plumbers, Plumbing

While a BBC Inside Out investigation has cast doubt on ‘trustworthy trader’ websites such as Rated People and MyBuilder, the Chartered Institute of Plumbing & Heating Engineering (CIPHE) is on hand to make sure consumers make the best choices when it comes to employing a plumbing and heating professional.

The BBC investigation targeted a number of websites claiming to provide consumers with the details of skilled and professional tradespeople. While many of these types of sites have vigorous 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.

Kevin Wellman CEO of the CIPHE said, “The CIPHE has been in effect running one of the original ‘trustworthy trader’ sites through its online ‘Find a Plumber’ search tool. We know first-hand how important it is to have the trust of the consumer and uphold high standards of workmanship. However, 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 – something which the CIPHE does in every single case - and something which this report has proven does not happen across the board.”

“Loopholes which allow unscrupulous and fraudulent ‘tradespeople’ to advertise on such websites need to be closed, not just for the sake of the consumer, but for the honest tradesperson too. Some of these websites cost installers a significant amount of money to join, in the belief it will bring in additional work. These websites are devalued when the correct checks are not put in place to stop unscrupulous traders."

“This is why only CIPHE members who hit specific criteria can join our directory database and be found on our online ‘Find a Plumber’ tool. Additionally, the CIPHE only charges a nominal rate of £55.00 (inc. VAT) per year for entry onto its database, which is also promoted to consumers and the industry through PR campaigns, which in 2017 reached a circulation of over 7.5million people.”

If you are interested in finding out more about joining the CIPHE’s Directory Database please email membership@ciphe.org.uk or phone 01708 463116.