Roofer fined £10K for aggressive approach to customers in St Albans

Court report

Court report - Credit: Archant

A roofer who ‘aggressively’ pressured his victims for more money has been ordered to pay almost £10,000 in fines, compensation and court costs.

Thomas Watson, 20, formerly of Sandy Lane, Watford, pleaded guilty to seven charges relating to roofing work he carried out on two homes in St Albans and Hatfield last year.

Watson, who traded as T&J Roofing, appeared at St Albans Magistrates’ Court last Wednesday (15) where he admitted using aggressive commercial practices, failing to provide information on cancellation rights, failing to provide information about his address and making false claims for VAT.

The court heard that at an address in St Albans, he was contracted to carry out work to the value of £50 but then pressured a woman into agreeing to £800 of work.

He insisted on immediate payment and even followed the victim up the stairs to watch her while she made an online payment.

At another home in Hatfield, Watson initially quoted £1,000 to apply wood preservative to joists but then claimed that he was owed an additional £280 in VAT, despite not being registered for VAT with HMRC.

In mitigation Watson accepted that his conduct had been unacceptable and assured the court that he was now in a different situation with a job and a pregnant wife. He added that he would not offend again.

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He was fined £2,000 and ordered to pay £3,100 in compensation to his two victims as well as £4309.98 in prosecution costs and £100 victim surcharge.

Watson was arrested following an investigation by Herts county council’s trading standards service.

Richard Thake, cabinet member for community protection, said: “It’s completely unacceptable for traders to use aggressive or threatening behaviour to get customers to agree to have work done.

“This sort of behaviour is illegal and we’ll continue to investigate and prosecute traders who try to take advantage of consumers in this way.

“Residents shouldn’t be forced into agreeing to or paying for work on the spot and traders should make it clear that customers have a 14 day cooling off period in which they have a right to cancel any contract made with an uninvited caller.