Where is David Foster?
People investing in a new bathroom often ask their supplier for a recommendation of a good tradesman to install it, but customers who say Bathstore in Bangor recommended local fitter David Foster have been left bitterly disappointed.
Des Hunt from Anglesey bought a suite from the shop in May last year. He says he was told David Foster was a good fitter who could do all the work he needed. A portfolio of Foster's work was available at Bathstore, with pictures of him apparently hard at work in other customer's homes.
Customers have been unable to contact David Foster
Having agreed what needed to be done, Des handed over a £200 deposit and Foster started the work, with payments from Des as the work progressed. Soon he'd handed over an additional £1,500. But there were problems as Des had to question the standard of workmanship.
Des showed Rachel Treadaway-Williams video footage of the problems he says were caused by Foster. Des described how leaking tanks in the loft left damaged ceilings, and a brand new bath was scratched and poorly installed.
When Des tried to contact David Foster to sort the problems out, he says he had a phone call from Bathstore to say David Foster wasn't coming back to the job. Des returned to the store to discuss the problems he'd experienced and says he was told Foster would be taken off the "customer recommended" list of fitters Bathstore provided.
But months later, when John Butcher wanted to renovate the bathroom at his family's cottage near Beaumaris he was also given Foster's contact details.
The work would cost £5,500 and was due to start while John's family were away on holiday, so John paid £4,500 for Foster to get the bulk of the work done before he would oversee the finishing touches.
When John tried to contact Foster to make sure everything was on track he couldn't get hold of him, and after calling Bathstore he was told Foster had ceased trading. John says, "I felt increasingly angry."
Another customer who handed over money after he got Foster's name from Bathstore this year was Joe Large from Caernarfon, who wanted to have an en suite fitted. He was shown the same portfolio of David Foster's work that Des Hunt had seen the year before.
Joe says, "It was very complimentary and we were quite happy." Joe paid Foster a cheque for £950 in advance for materials but when the date to start work came, there was no sign of David Foster.
Joe spoke to John Eden Jones from Gwynedd Trading Standards, who tried to contact David Foster to resolve the issue. John told Rachel, "When he telephoned me he was quite aggressive, he implied all this was down to Joe, that it was Joe's fault, a number of appointments had been made for the work to commence and Joe had broken these appointments."
John told Rachel that Foster could be in breach of contract under the Supply of Goods and Services Act as the work hasn't been done, and there could be a criminal breach under doorstep selling regulations as Joe wasn't given notice of his right to cancel.
He added that there may be issues against Bathstore under Consumer Protection Regulations if it was shown they had recommended Foster.
In an interesting twist, David Foster has registered the name B&Q Home Improvements Limited with Companies House, and unsurprisingly the real B&Q aren't happy about it. They've asked Foster to change the name of his company, and they're referring the matter to a tribunal.
Rachel visited several properties Foster has been linked to recently, but he's moved on from the address he registered his businesses at in Colwyn Bay, and the other properties in Llandudno and Old Colwyn are empty.
Companies House say it's a civil offence to give false information to Companies House, or to fail to inform them of significant changes. They add, "As a result of information provided by X-Ray we are already in the process of writing to the companies concerned to clarify their proper home and registered office addresses. A failure to respond appropriately or to correct defective information can result in a fine."
Bathstore insist they made it clear to customers that they don't recommend any individual fitter and advised people to make their own checks as Bathstore wouldn't be liable for any problems between a customer and contractor.
They've confirmed Foster was temporarily removed from the customer recommended list of fitters last year following a complaint, but he was then reinstated as they weren't able to substantiate it. But he was taken off their list for good in August this year after they received more complaints about him.