When I moved into my new house last year, I couldn’t wait to get everything sorted out and start making my new little house a home. The place needed a lot more work than what I had realised and I went on local Facebook groups to look for recommendations of builders that could come round and give me a quote. I also looked them up on Check A Trade to make sure they were legit.
A local builder came over, went round the house letting me know what needed doing and gave me a quote. He also mentioned he would fix up some other small bits whilst the rest of his team was doing the work. This sounded great and he seemed to know what he was talking about so I decided he would do the job. He asked for half of the money up front (£1650) so that he could buy the materials and they could start ASAP. I haven’t really used many workmen before but I didn’t think twice about transferring him the money.
The day he was meant to pick the keys up from me, he mentioned he was stuck on another job. That evening he started messaging me with flirty messages, asked me if I’d like to pop over his house for a Chinese, asked if I was single, kept messaging that I was attractive etc. He then became more persistent, kept calling me and texting question marks if I didn’t reply quickly. At first, I stayed relatively friendly because I didn’t want to make things awkward, then I decided to ignore his messages. He texted about getting a cab to my house to pick me up and before I knew it, a cab was in my driveway and he was calling me non-stop. I messaged him back and told him that I wasn’t home. Eventually the cab pulled away but he continued to keep messaging and calling me. The next morning, he apologised saying he was drunk and embarrassed and that he would pick up the key that evening. He didn’t and another day went by where he didn’t start the work because he was too hungover.
It wasn’t until he sent me a message that said “Any chance I can fuck you x sorry had to ask” that enough was enough. I asked him to give my deposit back and that I would hire someone else who actually turned up for work and didn’t speak to me like that. I went online to ask if anyone else had used his company before and received a message from someone on facebook who had problems with him too. He had started work on their house, messed it up, then threatened both her (a pregnant woman) and her husband and told them that if they gave him a bad review he would “be back”.
He kept putting off giving me my money back with every excuse under the sun. He claimed he would start the work and be there the next day, he then said that he had already returned it and it would take a few days to clear and then said he would drop it round as cash as he didn’t have the money in his account. I gave him a deadline, if he didn’t give me my money back by 7pm that evening, I would take action. His response? Was to send me a youtube video of a movie scene where a man holds a gun to another guys head and says “welcome to hell bitch”. At this point, I realised the man was clearly unstable and I wasn’t sure whether to take the video as a threat. I reported him to the police and got a restraining order against him meaning he was unable to come near me, and he was technically not meant to contact me again. I also contacted Check a Trade who had other complaints about him and removed him from their website, trading standards, my bank and I applied to the small claim court.
It was a long process, and months later, after postponing the small claims court deadline as many times as he could, his mother decided to email me asking me for my bank details so she could pay me back and it then wouldn’t end up with us going to court. I was sooo relived to get my money back and that it was finally all over.
Please be so careful when selecting workmen, even if they are on websites such as Check A Trade, it doesn’t mean they’re not dodgy! Look for someone with 100s of good reviews, or even better, someone who is recommended by a friend or family member.