Our raft of home improvement shows would suggest that Britons are obsessed with DIY. Yet, many of us are more comfortable watching it on the box than attempting to fix our own leaks and creaks.
For those of us not blessed with the requisite skill (or patience) – and I include myself for that category – it can seem much easier to enlist the services of a professional when looking to decorate or solve a problem. But, not all of us have a plumber on speed dial.
Word-of-mouth recommendations are always a good place to start if you know friends or family locally who have had work done recently, but where can you go if expertise isn’t always available for all the services you might need?
The Which? Consumer insight tracker has continually highlighted a disparity between how happy people are with the choice of traders in their area and how confident they feel in actually selecting one to do the job properly.
Vetting and approving trades people
The figures change slightly month-by-month, but the trend has remained broadly similar over the past few months – three-fifths of consumers think there is a good choice of trade services, roughly half believe in their ability to choose one, but under a third expect them to ‘act in their best interests’. In other words, we have no qualms about finding a mobile number for the local electrician, but two-thirds of us have doubts about whether we will be ripped off or not.
This is a damning statistic and is one of the reasons Which? has launched a pilot endorsement scheme (available in London and surrounding counties at this stage) for traders to try and bring confidence back to an area where it is sorely lacking.
Which? Trusted Traders aims to reassure consumers when they are trying to enlist the services of a trader and has upsides for the traders themselves, not least the opportunity to be professionally vetted and approved by an organisation such as Which?.
How do you find traders you can trust?
More than 100 firms have been endorsed in this pilot stage to date – after successfully completing a rigorous, independent assessment process – and with hundreds more entering the application process, we hope to soon be the first port of call when you’re searching for a trader in your area. In many ways the endorsement scheme will build on the success of our popular Which? Local service and bring it to a wider audience.
We’re interested to hear your stories about finding a trader, so let us know what you usually do when you have work that needs doing. Do you know any tradespeople you’ll be recommending to Which?.