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Suspended sentence for rogue doorstep trader

swanseaA DOORSTEP trader, who ‘bullied and intimidated his victims’ while offering replacement guttering and roofing services has been given a suspended sentence for breaching the terms of an Enforcement Order.

The sentence was issued to David John Hanford, director of One Call Repair Ltd, by Swansea County Court on Friday (9th January).

The action was brought by Pembrokeshire County Council Public Protection’s Trading Standards Section under the Enterprise Act 2002.

Hanford, currently residing in Swansea, was issued with the enforcement order in December 2012.

It was issued for continually breaching consumer protection legislation including failing to issue cancellation notices, failing to honour refunds, conducting substandard work and making false claims of association with local authorities.

At the time he was based in Pembrokeshire but operating across South Wales.

Hanford did not attend the hearing and sent a letter to the Court requesting an adjournment. The matter went ahead in his absence before his Honour Judge Vosper, who heard evidence of numerous complaints against Mr Hanford and his business.

The Judge heard that many of the complainants were elderly and reported feeling bullied and intimidated by David John Hanford’s behaviour.

He usually presented himself as ‘John’ an employee of the business and inferred that ‘David’ was the owner. He masqueraded between the two, to mislead consumers and avoid liability.

Some consumers were persuaded to have work which was not necessary. Typically work commenced following payment of a deposit. Existing guttering or roof tiles would be removed, prior to demands for more money to buy materials.  If consumers refused to pay by a specified period they were threatened with “walking off the job and court action”.

Even when money was paid Mr Hanford was usually never seen again to complete the work. Any work he did was to a very poor standard.

Evidence was also presented that one consumer was left with all the roof tiles removed from the rear of her property.

Another was pressurised to rent his caravan to Hanford’s family, only to have Hanford later demand a refund of the money paid.  The complainant was taken to the post office by Hanford to withdraw the money.

Other traders also lost money for non payment of goods or services.

Judge Vosper was satisfied that the Enforcement Order had been breached several times by Hanford. If evidence is received of a new breach after January 9, Hanford will receive a six month custodial sentence.

Cllr Huw George, Cabinet Member for Environmental and Regulatory Services, said he welcomed the Judge’s decision.

He urged members of the public to be wary of businesses cold calling.

“While some doorstep sellers are perfectly legitimate and offer honest and reliable customer service, there are salespeople who take advantage of people through pressurised selling,” he said.

“It’s vital that homeowners take the time to consider their decisions carefully, with the support of family and friends.”

Anyone wishing to report a complaint should contact the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 0345 4 04 05 06 / 0345 4 04 05 05 (Welsh speaker).