Exeter trader convicted for poor quality building work and intimidating consumers

An Exeter man has been prosecuted for carrying out poor quality building work on driveways, extracting payment, and then leaving the victims with no method of gaining redress.

An Exeter man has been prosecuted for carrying out poor quality building work on driveways, extracting payment, and then leaving the victims with no method of gaining redress.

Sydney Harker, 28 of River Meadows, Water Lane, Exeter, trading as Regency Drives and Countrywide Paving, targeted elderly victims in Crediton and Exeter.

He had earlier pleaded guilty to charges under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008, the Cancellation of Contracts Made at a Consumer's Home, etc. Regulations 2008 and the Business Names Act 1985.

Mr Harker was fined �300, ordered to pay the court costs of �1392.65, and asked to pay victims �2,700 compensation at Honiton Magistrates Court on Wednesday 27 January.

Victims complained to Devon County Council Trading Standards Service when they were cold called by Mr Harker who offered his driveway services, including tarmaccing, laying brick paving, power washing and applying sealants. The victims were falsely reassured by professional looking business documentation and photos of alleged previous work.

The work done was of very poor quality and the victims experienced problems after a short period of time. They were also denied their legal right to cancel the contract.

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The Court heard that in one instance aggressive practices were used to obtain payment from an elderly victim. In this case, the customer was driven to the bank by a workman to collect the money.

Victims tried to contact Mr Harker to get the problems rectified, but no business address was given and company freephone numbers stopped working a few days after jobs were completed.

Councillor Roger Croad, Devon County Council's Cabinet Member for Environmental and Regulatory Services, said; "This is an example of a trader who pressured people into employing his services, denying them their legal rights and then, in one case, using aggressive practices to ensure payment was made for work of a truly poor standard.

"This conviction shows that Trading Standards do not tolerate these kind of unfair practices and will continue to do all they can to deter this type of trading."

Consumers have a legal right to cancel doorstep contracts up to seven days after the contract is formed.

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