Trade Recommendation Sites – Good or Bad Thing?

Trade Recommendation Sites – Good or Bad Thing?

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Trade recommendation sites and services, are they a good or bad thing?

Trade recommendation sites and services, are they a good or bad thing?


What is a trade recommendation site? They are sites offering a service to the general public. That service being: professional building trades that they recommend as being verified/accredited.

Surf through the internet and advertising on the TV, we have a plethora of these types of sites. In fact there are dozens of them.

Well all that glitters is not gold!

The questions that need to be asked and answered are:

1.  Are there too many of these sites?
2.  Do they help the public or confuse the already complex issue?
3.  Do they do what they say they do?
4.  What exactly do they do for you, the trade?

I am writing this blog in the hope you will respond and give your opinion on these questions, it’s your chance to have a say, which you don’t get very often.

However, prior to asking these questions I would like the answer to two related questions that are bugging me.

Question one: Cowboy Builders

In 2012 a government minister Sir Andrew Stunell stated in the Guardian newspaper, that Cowboy Builders had infiltrated these recommendation companies/sites and were operating from within these companies.

The Department for Communities and Local Government stated that Tradesmen who operate self-check schemes, which allows trades to assess their own work, would be required to meet higher standards. Under this system there are also 18 independent organisations that conduct intermittent prearranged inspections. They will instead conduct unannounced spot-checks on the aforementioned Trades, to make the scheme more rigorous.

[Side thought: Has anybody looked at the cost and complexity of implementing such a scheme? I have and it is huge! I would suggest it is unworkable. Also who is going to foot the bill for this service? No doubt you – the trades.]

These measures will enforce compulsory financial protection for householders, following a number of cases where self-check installers failed to finish work properly, left properties in a poor state of repair or were tracked down through the courts.

[These cases are a civil matter not criminal so to get a case in court the client has to take action against the builder and hope to win the case, this is an absolute get out as neither the police, government nor anybody other than the client /builder is involved.]

Communities’ minister, Andrew Stunell, also said the measures are a significant step in combating bad workmanship and would stop such activities.

We as a company operating in this service field monitor very closely all legislation and have to date yet to find any such change, two years on.

Membership of any competent person scheme is voluntary. As stated in this governmental report, installers carrying out certain types of work subject to the building regulations may choose to join a relevant scheme if they consider membership to be beneficial.

Now, this may be a controversial question but, what crook, con-man, cowboy builder/rogue trader is going to join any scheme? How could they work the con trick/fraud if all their details were listed on some voluntary data base or website for all to access?

How does one implement a tougher controlled scheme that operates on a voluntary basis? This to me is a complete contradiction.

I think most politicians resemble ex-navy ships captains, the minute trouble arrives the order of the day is make smoke AND LETS GET OUT OF HERE.

Question two: Cowboy Clients

When is some legislation going to be brought into force to protect the trade’s persons from the Cowboy clients?

I would suggest probably never.

Everything one reads about the cowboys is pointed at the bad behaviour of the trades, never a mention of the hundreds of clients that go to extreme lengths not to pay their bill. We hear reports all the time of clients avoiding paying their bills or similar.

Trades are not excluded from blame in this situation as none of us put in place any form of legal protection. A lot of trades and clients alike believe that because a price for the work is agreed upon, clients accept that price and give permission for the trade to carry out that work. Both parties thinking that they have entered into a contract.

Wrong: One has nothing more than an agreement; you do not have a contract. It’s not worth the paper it’s written on.

With the advent of the internet everyone is becoming more informed than they used to be. Clients may use this knowledge to the full against you. You as a contractor have to sharpen your act up. The majority of politicians are interested in votes and their own survival; they will not pass any legislation that could be seen as offensive toward the voting public.

Back to the original issue:

Question One: Are there too many trade recommendation services?

I believe there are far too many of them and the systems they employ for vetting these trades are archaic, every lad and his dad are on the bandwagon. You as a trade have to be very wary about who you join.

Question Two: Do they help the public or confuse the already complex issue?

I believe that the plethora of trade recommendation services, albeit they are not all bad, are totally confusing the general public when trying to choose a trade for the works that they need doing. One person/trade may be a member of one service, but not another… or may not be a member of any service therefore losing out on work when they are a legitimate trade.

Question Three: Do they do what they say they do?

This is the million dollar question that is virtually unanswerable. How long is a piece of string? According to our politicians they are not doing what they set out to achieve. You need to have your eyes wide open.

Question Four: What exactly do they do for you the trade?

You part with money to become a member of one of these organisations or indeed to win work and in some cases this membership is extortionate. How beneficial is this to you? You may well have a nice logo on the side of your van and on your paperwork but this is free advertising for them not for you. How helpful are they when you have a problem? They will give advice and point you in the right direction but for an additional cost. I have looked in detail at every one of them over the last three years and I can assure you of one thing, the bigger they are the more expensive they become.

I could write all day on this subject but I want to hear your thoughts and ideas on it, Please comment and tell us what you think. We want to hear your constructive comments.


Ronnie Pye‘s insight:

Great Blog peice from our friends over at UKFB. A question that really need answering,

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