A self-employed landscape gardener who carried out landscaping work at a property in Carrickfergus, including the laying of artificial grass, to a very poor standard was today fined £500 at Belfast Magistrates’ Court. The court also granted a compensation order for £1,650.
In a case brought by the Department for the Economy's Trading Standards Service (TSS), James Maughan (23) of Lakeview Court, Craigavon, trading as Done Deal Home Improvements, pleaded guilty to three charges under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008.
He was given a conditional discharge for two years in relation to each of the the other two charges, which related to a failure to provide the consumer with paperwork as required by law and failing to provide landscaping materials for which he was paid an additional £150.
In June 2022 Mr Maughan, trading as Done Deal Home Improvements, responded to a request on an online platform from a resident in Carrickfergus who wanted some landscaping work carried out.
On 6 June Mr Maughan called to the man’s property and a price of £1,750 was agreed for the main element of the job, which was the laying of artificial grass to the rear of the house, along with the laying of some stone to the front and bark to a sloping area at the back.
Work started on 8 June and on 9 June the artificial grass was laid. The following day the householder complained to Mr Maughan about the quality of his workmanship; how the soil had not been levelled properly and the absence of any anti-weed membrane. Mr Maughan assured him it would be rectified and over the next few days laid out some of the stones and the bark.
However, on 19 June, only ten days after it had been laid, the artificial lawn came loose in the wind and the householder had to roll it up to prevent it blowing away.
By this stage Mr Maughan had been paid the quoted price of £1,750, plus a further £150 for additional stones and bark, which were never supplied. Mr Maughan failed to respond to the customer’s telephone calls or texts after that.
The householder eventually engaged another contractor to relay the artificial grass. Even though they used the same grass as originally supplied by Mr Maughan the final bill came to £1,700.
Mr Maughan also failed to provide the householder with certain information as required under consumer protection law, such as a proper business address and notice of his cancellation rights.
Kevin McNamara of the TSS said:
“This is another example of a trader carrying out poor quality work, leaving his victim with another bill to get the job completed properly. At a time of rising prices and increased cost of living, it’s important for consumers to have confidence in local tradespeople and to expect good quality and professional services."
“Going by the complaints we receive, consumers should be just as wary of traders who offer their services on online platforms as those who cold call at the doorstep. The same advice still applies as with getting any work done; try and get more than one quote, don’t be rushed into entering into a contract and don’t pay large amounts of money upfront.”
Anyone who believes they have been the victim of a rogue trader should contact Consumerline on 0300 123 6262 for advice.