The state’s consumer watchdog has issued a warning to South Australians to beware of unlicensed travelling conmen that offer and deliver unsatisfactory building work.
Commissioner for Consumer Affairs, Dini Soulio, said Consumer and Business Services (CBS) are currently investigating a business trading as Kennedy Roofing and Paving and a number of individuals alleged to be associated with the business.
“CBS has received reports from consumers of a small group of men with Irish accents, offering to do roofing and landscaping work for cash in Clearview and Manningham.
“These individuals – three sons and their father - have been identified as the Doran family.
“The sons – Michael, Patrick and James Jnr are also allegedly known by a number of aliases including George, Mike and Archie. The name of the father, alleged to be the principal of the business, is James Doran.
“In one particular incident, the identified alleged conmen approached an elderly man in his driveway with a flyer and negotiated to have his roof painted and repaired at an agreed price of $3,300 that was paid in cash before completion.”
The Commissioner has warned the public about the alleged conduct due to having reasonable grounds to suspect that Kennedy Roofing and Paving and the named individuals are breaching the Building Work Contractors Act.
They are alleged to be carrying on business as a builder without a license and advertising or holding themselves out as being entitled to carry out the business of a building work contractor.
After the above work began, it is further alleged that James Doran then convinced the resident to have his front lawn removed and a synthetic lawn laid in its place at an estimated cost of $2,000.
The resident agreed to the work, only to have James Doran revise the estimate a short time later, saying the work would actually cost $75,000, but then offered to carry out the work for a price of $29,000.
The resident agreed to hand over the amount in cash before completion. The work remains incomplete and the alleged conmen have not been located at this time.
The method used by these particular individuals is to hire backpackers with limited experience to carry out the labouring work.
The Doran family have recently been seen driving and picking up materials in the following vehicles:
- White dual cab ute (WA plate 1EPU 368)
- White dual cab ute (WA Plate 1CPZ 862)
- Silver Mitsubishi possibly a lancer (no registration details available)
Mr Soulio said residents across the state, in particular metropolitan Adelaide and the north-eastern suburbs should be on guard about these itinerant traders.
“The growth in traveling conmen scams involving roof and other landscaping and building services has resulted in an increasing number of South Australian consumers experiencing poor quality and costly work – that is often left incomplete.
“Once payment is handed over, the conmen will often disappear, making it extremely difficult to seek redress for shoddy or incomplete work, so any repairs will cost you extra.
“Such conmen often approach consumers door to door offering their services.
“Consumers are entitled to ask door knockers to leave. Under the Australian Consumer Law, consumers are entitled to a compulsory 10-day cooling off period in which they can change their mind if they don’t want to proceed.
“I urge residents to be vigilant and take precautions if approached by tradespeople. Please ensure you ask them to produce their SA builder’s licence card or alternatively you can check if they are licenced by using the online CBS licensing register.
“CBS has serious concerns about such practices and will continue to investigate and take strong action to protect South Australian consumers from such rogues.” Mr Soulio said.
“If you have any information about these travelling conmen, please call CBS on 131 882. Your information will help prevent other people from being stung.”
Individual traders who breach the legislation under the Australian Consumer Law can also face penalties of up to $220,000 and up to $1,100,000 for companies.