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Which? Trusted Traders: how we’re helping to improve standards

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Whether it’s an emergency or a planned home improvement, you’ll want to hire someone trustworthy. But if you’re up against the clock or starting from scratch, who do you turn to?

That’s where Which? Trusted Traders comes in handy. But like Ant and Dec, Laurel and Hardy, Morecambe and Wise, a double act never go out of fashion. Well we recently announced a pioneering partnership with Hertfordshire County Council.

Partner up to provide peace of mind

This partnership aims to provide people with the reassurance of knowing the helping hand they turn to has been thoroughly assessed and checked.

The success of the partnership is borne out of the two partners creating something bigger than themselves. Which? Trusted Traders is a free-to-use service that helps everyone, not just our members, find local, endorsed traders. And trading standards professionals assess and interview each trader face to face, and not all businesses that apply are endorsed.

We need to harness the power of partnerships in the trading standards arena to maintain and improve standards. It gives hardworking businesses the recognition that they deserve and provides reassurance to consumers. Anyone looking for a trader or seeking information about home improvements and motoring repairs can search the profiles of endorsed traders on the Which? Trusted Traders website.

Finding a local trader

So how do you decide which tradesperson to use? Would you find a scheme like this useful for helping you with your home improvements?

Comments
Member

Having been recently looking for tradespeople, I was looking at a company’s portfolio and thought the photos looked rather good…. almost too good.

So I did a reverse image search and found the same pictures all over the internet even the world as the same person appeared to do the same job in Australia for a different company!!!

I fully support any initiative to improve trust in tradespeople. I did check Which? Trusted Traders, but 1 review is not a lot to go on.

Member

I’m glad you support the Which? Trusted Traders initiative. Your experience goes to show how valuable an endorsement scheme can be. Before we endorse any trader, we do speak to a random sample of their previous customers to check their experiences. We also encourage traders to get as many reviews on the site as possible. However the onus is on the individual trader to do this and some traders are happy to simply be endorsed and do not use the website to collect reviews, in which case, they may not have many reviews.

Member

I think Which? Trusted Traders is a good service in principle but it hasn’t yet got anywhere enough firms in the scheme. I have just repeated an exercise I did recently to find an electrician and a boiler servicing firm. First the postcode was not recognised even though it’s been in use for over four years now, then the nearest electrician was 37 miles away and the nearest boiler maintenance company was 18 miles away. There are plenty of good electricians and boiler maintenance firms in the local area but clearly they see no particular advantage in joining WTT – perhaps the entry requirements are a turn-off or maybe there is enough business available without getting involved in such a scheme. There are several other trader-finding websites one of which I have used successfully to find a good tiler.

I am intrigued to know how Hertfordshire Trading Standards will be able to carry out face-to-face interviews with firms all over the country. I would have appreciated a link to the announcement of the new partnership mentioned in the second para of the Intro.

Member

Which? Trusted Traders is a growing scheme with new traders coming on board all of the time. If there are any traders in your area that you think should be on our scheme don’t forget to recommend them using our recommend a Trader scheme http://whi.ch/1x21kps to help grow our scheme and give you peace of mind when using the traders in the future.

Trading standards professionals are used for all of our Which? Trusted Traders assessments, and do cover the whole country for us. In Hertfordshire we undertake an extra check with Hertfordshire Trading Standards and a DBS check. The Which? Trusted Traders website will be updated with more information on this partnership in the coming weeks.

Member

Thanks for the clarification, David.

I tend to favour sole traders on personal recommendation and I doubt if they would wish to pay the fees and do the paperwork required to join WTT. Most of them have got an order book many months long. Another point that might disqualify them is that usually they will only do emergency call-outs for established clients.

Member

The Which? Trusted Traders scheme provides consumers with a choice of trustworthy traders, and it gives those businesses recognition. Some use our scheme for leads, some for the endorsement. For traders who are well established an endorsement from Which? may not mean as much, but for others being able to show their customers, regardless of work load that they have been endorsed by Which? is worth every penny.

Traders can use their website profile to let consumers know the kind of work they do. If they didn’t do emergency call-outs they could explain that, we certainly wouldn’t disqualify them.

Member

John, this is a local scheme only. It doesn’t say anything about how much Trading Standards are involved in the selection of traders. The Which? scheme charges traders for inclusion – an application fee of £60 then from £480 a year upwards. This might put small businesses off, or those who have an established reputation and don’t need to pay to be publicised. Frankly, the latter are the businesses I would rather be recommended to so this scheme may well be limited in its usefulness. Part of the application requires customer references, so who selects these – a random choice from all recent jobs? Since you can join when you’ve only been going 6 months such references might be a little sparse.

“Find a trustworthy trader
Hertfordshire Trading Standards knows how important it is to use a good trader but also how hard it is to find one. Therefore in 2016 we partnered with Which? Trusted Traders to help local people find trustworthy traders and give hard working traders the recognition they deserve.

How to find a business
The Which? Trusted Traders and Hertfordshire Trading Standards scheme provides a list of businesses including electricians, plumbers, builders, handymen and many more that have passed an assessment before they became endorsed by the scheme. Only if all the requirements are met, will a business be able to join as an endorsed trader and the business will be monitored and reassessed every year.

We cannot promise that an endorsed trader’s work will be perfect every time, but you can expect any problems to be dealt with fairly by the business. Plus any business who fails to comply with the code of conduct can be suspended or removed and if something does go wrong, consumers also have the reassurance of an independent Alternative Dispute Resolution service.

Once a business is accepted onto the scheme they will feature on the Which? Trusted trader website and the list is available by following the following link – http://trustedtraders.which.co.uk

Member

I am much obliged Malcolm. There was no indication in the Intro that this partnership was limited to Hertfordshire. Which? Trusted Traders covers the whole country so i am still at a loss to know how the face-to-face interviews are done everywhere else . Perhaps other trading standards departments do the same as Hertfordshire. I noticed on the WTT site that the involvement of Trading Standards in the evaluation process was stressed although both sides seem to be coy about what this actually involves. Norfolk County Council has had a Trusted Trader scheme for over seven years; it seems to be based heavily on references and it has similar limitations to other such schemes but at least it has a large number of entries.

I find limited-circulation ‘district’ magazines [like Norfolk’s Village People as recently exposed in the ‘missing words’ round on TV’s Have I Got News For You] quite good for advertising the better firms in the area – no selection process is involved but I have not found a duff one yet. I tend to notice the state of their vehicles, the turn-out of the operative(s), their general approach to work so far as can be seen from the street, and if the trader is available I ask for their business card and possibly have a chat about my requirements. Good, but not intense, supervision is the key to getting satisfaction.