Bitumen bandits target consumer in Somerset Region

The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) is warning that itinerant bitumen traders offering driveway repairs and bitumen laying services are targeting consumers in the Somerset Region, north west of Brisbane.

Fair Trading Commissioner Victoria Thomson is advising residents and businesses that these itinerant bitumen layers are scammers who leave consumers out of pocket.

“We have had reports from the public that these scammers are in Cressbrook and are targeting consumers with their dodgy services,” said Ms Thomson.

“These itinerant traders often spin a story about having bitumen available for a ‘cheap price’, ‘today only’ because it’s ‘left-over from another job’, and this is the story we’re hearing is being used at Cressbrook.

However, they do vary their approaches and mix and match their sales pitches.

“Sometimes watered-down bitumen is laid on ungraded or poorly graded ground and consumers find themselves further out of pocket as they later have to pay another trader to have it removed and replaced.

“On this occasion, the scammers quoted a homeowner $20 per square metre to lay their driveway stating they had leftovers from another job.

“The consumers were told the work had a three-year guarantee, but there was grass growing through the new bitumen within a few days and the trader can’t be contacted for a refund.

“Sometimes the scammers simply take large deposits, perform no work, and never return.”

Consumers and businesses are reminded that door-to-door traders must generally not accept payment or commence work on a property within a 10-business day cooling-off period, and consumers can cancel any agreement within this period without penalty.

Door to door traders must leave your premises if directed and must not approach any residence displaying a 'do not knock' notice or sticker. Queensland residents can order a free sticker from the OFT website.

“These traders are highly mobile and now that the word is out about their activities in the Somerset Region, they will likely be in the process of moving to a new area.  I urge consumers in the Western Downs, Southern Downs, Scenic Rim and Goondiwindi regions to stay on their guard.”

If you think you have seen these traders, contact the Office of Fair Trading on 13 QGOV (13 74 68) so we can track their movements and warn other consumers.