The Association of Professional Landscapers (APL) is backing calls for all consumers to be vigilant when it comes to rogue traders who offer garden and landscaping services. The Office of Fair Trading has recently launched a consumer awareness campaign advising householders to be cautious when being approached by doorstep sellers and tradesmen.
Last year Consumer Direct received more than 13,000 complaints about uninvited traders and almost half of these complaints related to home maintenance work. With complaints about home maintenance peaking in key gardening and landscaping seasons from July through to the Autumn, APL are urging consumers to always double check the landscaper they are employing has a recognised accreditation.
• You are not obliged to purchase anything.
• Do not hand over any cash without seeing the completed work.
• Get a second opinion from a person you trust and other quotes for comparison
• Research the landscaper fully before agreeing to anything - who will actually be doing the work, does the landscaper sub contract to other individuals?
The Association of Professional Landscapers (APL) has been formed to help consumers make that informed choice. Formed in 1995, the APL which operates as a specialist group of the Horticultural Trades Association, represents landscapers who have met a required standard of professionalism. Members of the Association are registered with the government endorsed TrustMark Scheme and are regularly inspected and agree to follow a customer charter with clients. All APL members also hold the appropriate insurance and have traded for a minimum of three years.
When thinking about employing a landscaper:
• Look into using an APL member. Registered members of the APL have to comply with the government endorsed TrustMark scheme and must meet eleven strict quality standards before membership is granted. To find an APL landscaper in your area, visit www.landscaper.org.uk
• It is always best to go on recommendations of friends, family or colleagues. If they were happy with a job, it is likely that you
will be too. Ask to see a portfolio and testimonials of the landscaper's work before committing to anything.
• The trader will make it clear from the outset what they are selling or offering, will not pressurise you into purchase and will leave when asked to do so.
APL Chairman, Mark Gregory said: "The public often think that these traders offer value for money. In my experience, they rarely do, the work is mainly rushed, botched and not thought through. The public also do not realise that they are responsible if the tradesmen have accidents on their property resulting in their injury and can be sued even after the job has been finished and paid for.
The APL represents the best in the industry for garden works and construction. The skills and knowledge these businesses bring to consumers and confidence to buy count for so much. You get one chance on a major investment to your property. It has got to be right.