Trader recommendation websites must vet firms, says watchdog

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Popular trader proposal websites must vet nan firms they advertise and tackle clone reviews nether caller rules designed to protect households from cowboy builders and tradespeople.

Nationally, unscrupulous traders costs homeowners astir £1.4bn a year, according to trading standards authorities, a problem that is escalating arsenic request for location improvements, loft conversions and extensions increases.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is publishing draught proposal aimed astatine nan websites and apps commonly utilized by group to find a builder, plumber aliases electrician, pinch Checkatrade, MyBuilder and Rated People among nan best-known names.

The CMA, moving alongside various trading standards organisations, analysed nan behaviour of unnamed proposal sites and recovered problems including a nonaccomplishment to region clone reviews, inadequate vetting procedures and a nonaccomplishment to punishment rogue traders.

As galore arsenic 775,500 UK households are ripped disconnected each twelvemonth erstwhile having building activity aliases location improvements done, suffering an mean nonaccomplishment of astir £1,800, according to charismatic estimates. The Guardian has reported connected a number of egregious cases including a carer who mislaid almost £13,000 aft falling unfortunate to 2 sets of cowboy builders.

“More and much group are utilizing sites and apps for illustration these to thief them find nan correct trader, from rewiring nan room to fixing a leak,” said George Lusty, nan CMA’s interim executive head for user protection.

But we’ve seen worrying grounds suggesting group could beryllium misled into reasoning these sites really cheque traders – and will return action erstwhile things spell incorrect – which isn’t nan case.”

Lusty said nan proposal had been drawn up to spell retired to trader proposal sites their obligations nether user law.

The steps they should return see conducting due checks earlier traders are allowed to advertise, search mediocre reviews and operating transparent complaints processes, nan CMA said.

The sites and apps besides request to enactment upon complaints, including removing problem firms from their listings, nan watchdog said, adding they besides needed to person an “effective, transparent and impartial process concerning online user reviews”.

Mike Andrews, nationalist coordinator for nan National Trading Standards e-crime team, said consumers had travel to “rely connected these platforms to put them successful touch pinch competent and honorable traders”.

“This draught proposal is nan commencement of ensuring that platforms return their responsibilities to vet and verify those traders they beforehand overmuch much earnestly and, should things spell wrong, that they supply consumers pinch a measurement to complain.”

Businesses will person until nan mediate of August to respond to nan consultation aft which a last type of nan proposal will beryllium issued, pinch applicable tips advising consumers connected really to safely usage trader proposal sites.

Source theguardian