Cowboy builders are being attacked again – this time by MPs calling for a consultation into how the industry is licensed. Is this the right approach – or is there a better way to improve our trust in traders?
Lib Dem MP, Stephen Lloyd, has spoken out saying it’s imperative that the government acts to end the ‘proliferation of cowboy builders that plagues us all’.
Perhaps that’s a bit melodramatic, but I see his point. We all know people struggle to find a builder they trust – and a Co-op survey last year put traders in the top ten most distrusted professions, not far behind politicians and bankers.
Not all builders are cowboys
Being the partner of a joiner who often comes home with tales of builders deliberately doing a bad job (or doing no job at all), I’ve heard enough to realise the industry is flawed.
Still, there are many decent traders out there and it’s all too easy to lump the lot of them into the ‘cowboy’ bracket. It’s finding the good ones – and then getting them to slot you into their busy schedule – that’s the difficult part.
Which? Local goes a long way to solving this, giving people the chance to recommend traders that they’ve used. But it does rely on enough reviews being added, as Which? Local’s Pete Tynan pointed out in a previous Conversation on this very subject:
‘You should take a single review from a member with a pinch of salt, and the best way to find a reliable trader is to get a personal recommendation from someone you know and trust.
But if you’re not fortunate enough to have a network of friends/family where you live then Which? Local can be a great way of finding a good trader – as many Which? members have told us.
Remember that customer feedback also helps keep the good local traders in business and drive out the bad guys.’
What’s the solution?
Yes, Which? Local or personal recommendations are a good start, but do we need to find a better answer to improve the industry?
Stephen Lloyd says he isn’t calling for over-regulation – and I’m glad. As he says, this could well cause ‘detriment [to] the small businesses and entrepreneurial spirit we need to be championing.’
Instead, he urges that it’s time ‘to tackle this issue head on and a Westminster Hall debate is a brilliant start, but there is much work to be done’.
It’s all rather vague, and it isn’t the first time that political noises have been made – a crackdown on rogue traders was announced back in July 2009 – so will these murmurs really make any difference? Or is it simply up to us to develop our own method of finding traders we trust?