Do you know the difference between tradesmen’s estimates and final costs? £4.6 billion…

According to new research  by HomeServe the difference between tradesmen’s initial estimates and the final cost amounts to a staggering £4.6 billion a year. On average, UK consumers end up paying £1,073 more than the initial estimate given by the tradesmen. Sometimes this is unavoidable, as extra tasks come up in the course of the work, but HomeServe suggest that the scale of the difference between estimate and final cost indicates that tradesmen are deliberately giving unrealistically low estimates to secure the job. So how can you tell if you are being given a true estimate or an unrealistic one?

The answer is to get a quote. Unlike an estimate, if you formally accept a quote (by marking it “Accepted”, signing and dating it, and then returning it to the builder) you are not obliged to pay more than that for the work outlined. However, almost a quarter (23%) of people do not get a final quote before the work starts, with 15% thinking that an estimate is a firm offer. This is something that can be difficult to remember in an emergency, but is something you should do to avoid any nasty surprises when the bill arrives.

As we wrote in our last blog on the subject, there are a few other details that you should get to make sure that the tradesman is legitimate; are they  a member of a trade association and do they have public liability insurance, for example.. A more comprehensive list can be found in our finding a builder section. Other than this, make sure that you get at least three quotes (where possible) and that you are as specific as possible when detailing the scope of the work.

In our next blog, our legal expert will explain what you can do to protect your interests when engaging builders to work on your home.

Have you ended up paying more to a tradesman than you anticipated? Complete our short online survey here.

What do you do when Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid ride into town?

Our guide to protecting yourself from ‘dodgy’ builders – Part 1

There are over 100,000 complaints every year made in the UK against rogue traders. Quoted from: www.tradingstandards.gov.uk

“An elderly woman from West Yorkshire was happy to help when a caller asked to leave a large roller in her drive overnight rather than take it back to his yard. The following morning he called and thanked her for her kindness. To say thank you he told her he had some tarmac left over from a previous job and would do her drive for just £400 – as a thank you. She replied that she didn’t have £400 so, as a favour, they agreed £300. She agreed but when the ‘job’ was done he demanded £2600 saying she must have misheard and he became threatening. He ordered a taxi, driving her to the bank to withdraw the cash. But she didn’t hand it over immediately, returning to her home and slipping out of the back door to a neighbour’s for help. She phoned trading standards to be told they couldn’t help – it was a police matter. She phoned the police who said it was nothing to do with them – it was a civil matter. Obviously worried about the situation the man left but has since made threats saying he will harass her 24 hours a day and keep telephoning her (from an untraceable mobile).”
Continue reading What do you do when Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid ride into town?

Owed money? A SME’s guide to recovering business debts

Debbie-Haskell-150x150One of the biggest problems faced by small businesses over the last few years is getting paid promptly by their customers. It was reported that in June 2012 the collective debt for SME’s in the UK was a record 35.5 billion. With the UK economy heading towards its longest recession on record, it has become increasingly commonplace that consumers are choosing to delay payments as they struggle to make ends meet. Business customers have also adopted this same strategy to improve their own cash flow or may even attempt to renegotiate the bill. So what can you do to avoid becoming another statistic? Our debt recovery pack may help you. If you don’t need the whole pack then you can always obtain all the letters separately. Here is our approach to effectively managing the situation.

Communication
If your cash flow is being affected by non payers then the best approach is to ensure that you remain in contact to avoid them adopting a ‘head in the sand’ approach. Sending your debtor letters reminding them that they still have a balance outstanding can produce results. It also has the added advantage of forming part of the paperwork and paper trail that you may need if you commence legal proceedings. A few friendly letters, which can be achieved with our debt collection letters for unpaid invoices may help you. If you still see no results then this should be followed with a reminder letter.
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Business perceptions of employment legislation

Sarah-Varani-150x150A new government commissioned study was published on the 7th March 2013 by the Department for Business Innovation & Skills (“BIS”). This report appears in their Employment Relations Research Series 123. This was to look at Employment Regulation and Employer perceptions of the impact of employment regulation.

The Coalition government started a systematic review of employment law in 2010 and is now half way through its work to provide clarity, certainty and give businesses the confidence to manage their workforce effectively. The Review sits alongside the Employment Law-related Red Tape Challenge to reduce regulatory burdens on business.

The research used a qualitative interview approach with a wide spread of businesses in terms of size, industry sector and geographical location. Interviews were conducted between the 16 April and 22 August 2012. A total of 40 businesses took part in the research which was undertaken by market research firm TNS-BMRB and Kingston University.
Continue reading Business perceptions of employment legislation