Suffolk Decorators fined after using illegal debt collectors and ‘frightening’ tactics against customers
January 22, 2016 Leave a comment
Illegal and intimidating debt collectors, refusing to stop work and overcharging have landed a Bury St Edmunds firm with nearly £18,000 in fines and court costs after a prosecution by Suffolk County Council Trading Standards.
Michael and Jason Breslin, of Breslin
Decorators in Queens Road, pleaded guilty at Bury Magistrates’ Court on 12 January 2016 to a total of six charges, including employing illegal debt collectors who “intimidated and frightened” a woman in her own home.
The case came to the notice of our officers in November 2014, after a Bury woman complained two people visited her at her flat claiming to be debt collectors. Thankfully, a male neighbour came to the woman’s aide and the men left the flat block.
As a result written statements were taken from the lady, who lived on her own, and another resident who had also been a customer of Breslin.
Both reported large invoices for work that far exceeded estimates given by Breslin to correct rot in windowsills. The prices doubled from around £800 and the decorators even carried out work that they were explicitly told not to undertake in order to leverage payment.
Sarah Stamp, Suffolk County Council’s cabinet member for communities, said:
“I feel the fines handed down by the magistrates clearly reflect the serious nature of the offences, particularly that of using an unverified debt collector to collect money from a single female, living alone in a secure property, at night. Such tactics are not acceptable and the consumers of Suffolk should be able to expect to feel safe in their own homes and not at risk of harassment and intimidation over disputed contracts. Suffolk Trading Standards will continue to investigate and prosecute incidents of this kind.”
Jason Breslin was fined £4,800, ordered to pay £1,710 in costs and a victim surcharge of £160. Michael Breslin was fined £8,000, ordered to pay £2,846 costs and a victim surcharge of £160.
The Trading Standards officer who worked on the case said the use of unqualified debt collectors, who turned out to be door security workers, was “totally inappropriate”.
Both of the defendants pleaded guilty to a total of six counts between them of using misleading and aggressive tactics under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008.
If you have concern about some work you’ve had done recently or have been approached by a rogue trader you should contact the Citizens Advice consumer service on 03454 040506 in the first instance. When seeking a reliable trader, talk to family, friends and neighbours to get recommendations or look for a Trader via our partners at Checkatrade.com, whose local members are vetted by Suffolk Trading Standards.