“This is the biggest and most disturbing rogue trader investigation we have ever undertaken. There were over 500 potential victims. I believe this is a landmark case exposing the ‘roof coating scam’ which has taken hold in the UK over the last decade.
The custodial sentences imposed send out a strong message to the large number of other companies out there who also cold call for roof coating work – to-stop, or you too may find yourself before the courts. In our opinion there is no doubt that moss causes no damage what so ever to tiles and the roof coating process is a wholly unnecessary treatment.”
Those were the words spoken by Mike Pigrem, Herefordshire council’s head of business and consumer protection after securing convictions against both the director and salesman of Newlook Roof Coating Ltd in a £2.4million scam. More info on the council’s website (Link now dead, so try www.durabilityanddesign.com/news/ instead)
Director Phillip Christopher Twose 59, and salesman John Colin Gumbrell 52, were convicted to 12 months in prison for trading offences. It is alleged that they used aggressive cold calling tactics against homeowners in the Herefordshire area. Many of the homeowners were elderly.
QC Mr Redgrave added:
The methods adopted are not unfamiliar- cold calling and misrepresenting the need for the remedial work to the roof. Whether or not the elderly were targeted- many were indeed elderly. The sales pitch began with an alarmingly high price, then with a series of so called discounts the price was reduced by order of two thirds. You are not the first nor will you be the last to employ these tactics.
While the director and salesman are in prison, the company website is still functioning and offers some insight into the tactics used by these scammers.
A look through the site reveals:
They claim to have over 27 years of experience, but Companies House only has business records from 2009. Newlook has also used code on their website to inform search engines like Google that they actually have 97 years of experience:
The site claims homeowners can add up to £10,000 to the value of the property – there is no evidence to prove this is the case.
They also suggest that the roof coating is like having “a new roof” but fail to inform customers that a new roof involves new tiles, new cement, new felt and new nails/fixings, none of this is included with the roof coating.
A Scam Sweeping the UK
This type of scam has swept across the United Kingdom in the last decade, newly formed companies typically hire gangs of cold callers to target homeowners with outrageous claims such as:
- adds value to property
- prevents damage by moss
- stops leaks
- comparable to a new roof
These claims are usually applied in conjunction with fear tactics, many leaving elderly homeowners thinking that their roof is in a state of disrepair when in fact there is nothing wrong with it.
Most of the pushy salesman will use the same tactics, a high price is gradually reduced, further discounts are offered if you recommend a friend, are the first in your road to have this work carried out or put up a promotional board in your garden.
Most of these companies dissolve after a few years of trading, only for the directors to form new companies in the same area carrying out the same type of work. Guarantees and debts are of course left behind with the old company.
Looking Deeper Into Newlook Roof Coatings
Looking deeper into the history of this company one can find several tell-tale signs of a dodgy company.
Repeated warnings from HSE (Health and Safety Executive):
01/03/2011 – Failure to use roof edge protection, prohibition notice issued.
19/12/2011 – Incorrect use of scaffold system, prohibition notice issued.
16/08/2012 – Repeated instances of unsafe work at height by operatives working on roof coating jobs, at which the job has been poorly planned (in terms of the adequate provision of edge protection). Personnel involved are not competent to carry out the duties you have given to them in relation to health and safety at the jobs, and that further information, instruction and training is required. This is in relation to work at any place in Great Britain. Prohibition notice issued.
These notices were sourced from the HSE website.
More research on questionable roof coating scammers can be done by reading this page and looking up the names if the directors. This is similar to another roof coating scam uncovered by the BBC’s Rogue Traders programme.
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