|image from clker.com|
In a nutshell, my husband and I have been gullible and naive ~ me more than him since I actually dealt with the guy concerned and should have known better.
Last week, a guy rang on our doorbell and said to me that his company did the work on our neighbour's drive and they were now canvassing for new jobs. He asked if we would like our block-paved drive cleaned, sealed and re-sanded, and they would also lift the blocks that had dipped, and quoted a price. He assured me that we would get everything in black and white, and we could pay by cheque, credit card or cash. I said that I would speak to my husband and get back to him if we were interested. He left me his mobile phone number, saying that it was better to contact him on that number as it wasn't always very easy to get through to the office. There and then I should have been alerted.....but I wasn't.
We decided that since our drive was looking pretty weedy/mossy/grubby, it would be a good idea to have the work done, especially since the company had made a good job of our neighbour's paving. I telephoned the guy and he told me that he would come out the following day to do the power-washing and would be back to do the sanding and sealing when it was all dry. I should have checked it all out with the office of the company concerned but I didn't.....I naively took the guy at his word.
He came out with a younger guy and they did the power-washing. The original guy certainly had the gift-of-the-gab and told me that some of the edging blocks needed to be re-set and more blocks needed to be lifted as there were even more dips visible than it had at first appeared. I could indeed see the dips he was telling me about and I phoned hubby at work to ask if we should have the additional work done ~ naturally for an additional price. He said to go ahead and get it all straightened out.
The upshot of all this was that although the guy told me that they had rectified the dips it has become obvious since all the rain we had over the weekend that they did no such thing. He also changed his story about the sealing, telling me that the sealer was applied after the power-washing; they also brushed sand over the blocks on that same day. He had asked me for "some cash" to go and get the sand as it was apparently dry enough for them to complete the job but I told him that I didn't have any. He accepted this without making a fuss and got the sand.
He also wanted me to let him clean the pvc siding on the side of our house and paint our guttering but I said no. I was suspicious by now but didn't really know what to do to be honest, especially as I was home alone.
When the work was supposedly finished, he again asked me for cash. I told once more him that I didn't have the cash and didn't have that amount of money in my bank account. He agreed to come back on Saturday morning to collect the money after hubby had been to the bank ~ he wanted cash, naturally, despite what he had originally said.
By this time we were sure he was a conman and managed to get hold of the company he purported to work for. The chap there said that he didn't know the guy and asked for his mobile number to talk to him. He phoned back to say that he couldn't get hold of him but agreed to come over in the morning when the guy was coming to collect his money.
As you have probably guessed by now, things turned rather nasty the next morning. The guy phoned to check that we had got his cash and when hubby said that he wasn't going to pay the whole amount as he hadn't done the job properly, he became very angry and threatening. He said that if he came over he would end up hitting my husband and if we didn't pay, then he would get his workmen ~ who he told us were from one of the gypsy sites ~ to come over during the night and throw black paint over the drive. He eventually agreed to take less money than he had originally quoted and said that he would send one of his men over to collect it.
We phoned the police because of the threats but were told that they couldn't do anything unless the guy became violent or any damage was caused. The policewoman also said to my husband "don't you watch Crimewatch?" which in the circumstances wasn't particularly helpful! The chap from the company we spoke to didn't show up and didn't return our phone call; we suspect that perhaps he did know this guy and didn't want to get involved. When hubby had confronted the guy about not working for this company at all, he said that he was a sub-contractor for them. The young man who collected the money (who had done the power-washing, etc) also said that they sub-contracted for this particular company.
I guess there are some of you who feel that we shouldn't have paid up but we felt extremely intimidated. My husband is not a big chap and is almost 56 years old ~ I certainly didn't want him getting hit and I didn't want our son to get involved in anything violent, either.
We both feel very foolish and can't believe how gullible we were ~ and yes, we have read many stories in the press about such things happening.
Neither of us will ever take anyone at face value again...