Consumer warning on 'bitumen bandits'

Consumer warning on 'bitumen bandits'

Consumer Protection is issuing an urgent warning to Western Australian consumers not to deal with so-called ‘bitumen bandits’ who offer unsolicited work and produce dodgy driveways that are too thin and use inferior quality materials.

Reports received today suggest that two white men with English/Irish accents, in orange fluorescent vests driving a white Ute and a Hino Truck with Queensland number plates are approaching homeowners in Geraldton to offer supposedly cheap, on-the-spot drive-way laying services.

Senior Regional Officer for Consumer Protection, Danni Bloomfield, advises people to just say no.

“These itinerant tradesmen are breaking the Australian Consumer Law by failing to allow customers a 10-day cooling off period to think over the uninvited offer,” she said.

“They also break the law by using high-pressure sales tactics and deliberately misleading homeowners – often those who are vulnerable or elderly – prior to carrying out unsatisfactory work that’s not worth the money paid.”

Miss Bloomfield said these operators are usually working in gangs and travel state to state, which means consumers across WA should be alert.

“Homeowners who are approached by so-called ‘bitumen bandits’ need to know that rather than getting a bargain, once the driveway has been laid it is likely to simply peel away because inferior quality material has been used and it’s not been laid thickly enough," she said.

“By the time you identify the problem, the tradesmen will be on the move and not able to be tracked down to enable a repair, replacement or refund that you would be entitled to under the Australian Consumer Law when a job is done this badly.”

Homeowners requiring expensive work such as driveway-laying are advised to shop around for quotes and use reputable local tradespeople.

Consumers are warned to also reject offers from roof or fence painters calling at homes unannounced, and back-of-van salespeople offering cheap electrical products.

To report travelling conmen, call the national hotline: 1300 133 408. Information such as descriptions of the offenders, vehicle registration numbers or business names used would be of assistance.

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