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How to Spot and Deter the Driveway Cowboys!

Yes, even the most vigilant and sensible of us can be taken in by an offer that is too good to be true. Luckily The Driveway Doctor is on hand to help you from being the next victim of the driveway cleaning and sealing scammers.

Avoid cowboys pretending to be driveway cleaners

Ever spotted a scruffy looking unmarked van or pick-up crawling slowly up and down your street with unscrupulous looking people knocking door to door?

Chances are, they are not trying to sell you religious books or cosmetics, instead they will be telling you they have spotted loose tiles on your roof, or more often than not, offering you a driveway or patio cleaning and sealing service for an unbelievably cheap price.

In reality these ‘Cowboys’ will typically do a very sub-standard driveway cleaning job often resulting in block paving being up-rooted from the sub-base and the delicate sand between the blocks completely blown away. Even concrete or resin bound surfaces can be permanently damaged if the wrong techniques are used. ‘Sealants’ will often be just 90% plain water with an unknown substance in it that might just give a sheen for 15 minutes – But will offer no protection at all.

Quite often distraction will prevent you from seeing this damage until you have handed over the cash and the perpetrators have made a swift exit from your property. The first indication of a poor job is unsightly zig-zag lines caused by inexperienced operators using a single jet high pressure lance. Closer inspection often reveals much more significant damage.

Read on to spot the signs and how to take action or contact us for peace of mind…

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  • Spot a suspicious van?

    Stay vigilant

    Call the local police if you suspect something is wrong. Do not answer the door yourself. If you are outside and approached, do not enter into dialogue, simply get inside the house quickly and lock all doors and windows.

  • Alert Your Neighbours

    Contact as many people as you can

    Be neighbourly, contact local friends and family and let them know if you think something suspicious is going on. They will no doubt thank you for the warning. Remember, these cowboys are parasites and will go to extreme lengths to part you and your cash.

  • Look for any warning signs

    Bogus claims

    If you are unlucky enough to be approached and caught off-guard, be aware of false claims such as; “Do you remember me? I did work for you last year” or “We have been doing some work in the area”. These will often be bogus claims so ignore them.

Our Do‘s and Dont’s

There are a few things you can do to help you feel safer, such as: 

  • Putting up a deterrent sign. You could put a ‘no cold callers’ sign up on your door or window, which can deter any cold callers from knocking on your door.
  • Do not enter into conversation. If you are caught off-guard outside, make a polite excuse and quickly get back into your house.
  • Neighbourhood watch. See if there is a scheme in your area and join it. Its a great way to meet new people and share information.
  • Nominating a neighbour. Find out if you have a nominated neighbour scheme where a neighbour can help to make sure if callers are safe.
  • Only let a person in if you’re expecting them. Maybe they’re a trusted friend, family member or professional. Don’t feel embarrassed about turning someone away.
  • Don’t feel pressured. Don’t agree to sign a contract or hand over money at the door. Think about it and talk to someone you trust.
  • Check their credentials. You should always check someone’s credentials – a genuine person won’t mind. You can phone the company they represent or check online, but never use contact details they give you.
  • Bank details. Don’t share your PIN or let anyone persuade you to hand over your bank card or withdraw cash before any work is carried out.
  • Call the police. Call the police non-emergency number 101 if you’re not in immediate danger but want to report an incident. But call 999 if you feel threatened or in danger.
  • Take the time to think about any offer, even if it’s genuine. Don’t be embarrassed to say ‘No’ to people or ask them to leave.

Rest assured, The Driveway Doctor:

  • Will never call on you unannounced. We always make an appointment in advance so you know when will be arriving.
  • Will provide Identification. We will always be able to provide personal identification if required, just ask.
  • Will never ask for any payment up-front. The only time we will take payment is when the job is completed 100% to your satisfaction.
  • Will always provide a quotation in advance. We have no hidden charges, what we quote is what you pay.
  • Will always be courteous and honest. We will never adopt hard-sell or put you under pressure to buy anything that was not agreed in the quotation.
Avoid the driveway cleaning cowboys with our help.

Been Scammed by the Cowboys?

If you’re unlucky enough to be caught out by a doorstep driveway cleaning scam, there are several steps you can take.

Firstly, never feel ashamed, it can happen to the most vigilant of people. These people are very clever manipulators.

To report an incident: Speak to an Action Fraud adviser directly on 0300 123 2040. Alert your local police or Neighbourhood Watch so they can warn other residents that the fraudsters are in the area.

To report dodgy salespeople, inferior or overpriced products or services, speak to the Citizens Advice (CA) helpline on 0808 223 1133 or chat with an adviser online. They can pass any complaints onto your local Trading Standards authority.

Sadly, it is unlikely that you will ever be reimbursed or see justice. But that said, some scammers are prosecuted and the more you can do to help the better.

The Driveway Doctor loath such scams and advice offered here has been in part provided by the Which? Consumer Rights Department. For more advice visit them here.