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How I Avoided Cowboy Tarmac Companies: A Case Study

By: Chris Hogan MSc - Updated: 22 Nov 2012 | comments*Discuss
Cowboys Driveway Tarmac Professional

There are many good professional companies laying driveways today but there are cowboys, too, and a man in Dorset has managed to winkle out these rogue traders on both occasions that they have visited his home.

Lucky Strike

"The first time was more luck than judgement," said Mark Paterson*. "I happened to be at home during the afternoon because I was on shift and this man knocked at the door to ask if I wanted my driveway laid."

"I was 22 and had only bought the house six months earlier so I was a bit naïve, I suppose," he said, "but I did, in fact, want the Tarmac On The Driveway Redone. But I knew that I needed to get the old gatepost out first, as I wanted to make the driveway wider."

"I asked how much and he said £300," said Mr Paterson, "and you have to bear in mind that this was in the early 1980s so that was quite a lot of money, more that half what I was taking home each month. He wanted cash, too."

Reluctance, then the Penny Drops

As he hadn't removed the gatepost and the asking price was more than he could pay at that moment, Mr Paterson said no. But he said that if they came back next month, he might well go for it. Of course, the workman wandered off, without really saying any more, and didn’t come back the next month."

"It wasn't until I was telling other people the story that I realised that I'd had a lucky escape from cowboys," he said. "It was obvious once I heard it coming out of my own mouth!"

Avoid the Cowboys

On many of our websites about property maintenance, extension and development, we talk about the need to avoid cowboys and use reputable contractors and Driveway Expert is no exception. Our advice is to get quotes from at least three professional companies, preferably ones that you have been given personal recommendations for (for more information about getting quotes, read our article Driveway Quotes and Estimates.)

You should never have any driveway work done by someone who calls on you out of the blue, and the danger is even more acute these days. When Mr Paterson was fending off his first cowboys, cash point cards hadn't yet been widely accepted by the public, so the only people who were going to fall prey to the scam were those with large amounts of cash under the bed.

That was bad enough, but these days there are many cowboys who will 'persuade' customers to go to a cash point and get money out of their accounts to pay their inflated bills for shoddy work.

Second Encounter no more Successful

"The second time was about three years later and I knew what was going on this time," said Mr Paterson. "It was a classic story. He said that they were laying tarmac on the main road, had some left over and they could use it to relay my driveway."

"He got short shrift because by then I knew that contractors who asked for cash on the door were probably cowboys. But also, by then I'd had the driveway done so he was actually standing on a driveway that was less than a year old!"

* name changed

For more information on cowboy contractors, read our article How To Spot the Cowboy Driveway Companies.

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