Mobility scooter misery
What started out as a simple search for a shed for her mobility scooter resulted in Margaret White being pressurised into handing over her life savings.
Margaret bought the mobility scooter to help with her independence but due to its size, storing it in the hallway was becoming a bit of a headache. Margaret decided to invest in a shed to store her scooter, and so visited her local DIY store to see what was on offer.
After a chance meeting at the store with Tom Connors of Rumney in Cardiff, Margaret was persuaded that he was a legitimate trader, worked for a reputable company and he was the man to build the shed she was looking for.
A few days later, Connors turned up at Margaret’s house unannounced, and started work on the shed without any further discussion.
But, the work on Margaret's shed wasn't what you'd expect from a reputable building company. David Sanders, from the Vale of Glamorgan Trading Standards told us:
“It was a very sporadic sort of pattern of building... It was built without planning permission so even if it had been a good job it probably would've had to have come down again, but it was a bad job. The roof was concave, so the water pooled in the middle of it, the rain water pooled on the top of it. It wasn't waterproof. It was built over a drain.”
But a badly built shed wasn’t Margaret’s only worry. As the weeks passed, Connors and his crew pressurised Margaret into handing over more and more money. She eventually paid out a total of £2,800.
“He was fleecing me,” she told X-Ray. “I was going down that Post Office nearly every day to get money out. I just felt so vulnerable.”
With the situation becoming rapidly out of her control, Margaret contacted the Vale of Glamorgan Trading Standards. After a surveyor ruled that the shed was of no monetary value, a prosecution was launched for the aggressive manner in which Margaret was dealt with.
Connors pleaded guilty to offences under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations, and is due to be sentenced in April.
David Sanders told us that Margaret’s story is all too common.
“It actually is quite typical practice of that type of trader,” he explained. “If they happen to think that they have a vulnerable consumer on their hands then the price tends to go up and up and up until they can get as much money as they can possibly get.”
Margaret is now trying to move on with her life, but the ordeal has taken its toll.
“It was making me feel ill,” she added. “I mean, these people around here, it wouldn't have happened to them. They have families and friends and everything. It happens to people like myself the world over.”