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FairTrades Association News

1.5 Million Pre-Payment Gas Meters Faulty

Energy suppliers are to refund customers on up to 1.5 million pre-payment gas meters after a fault led to "over-collection".

Trade association Energy UK said suppliers will be contacting every affected customer and will refund any money owed "as quickly as possible".

It said the problem came about because up to 1.5 million meters did not work properly when they were installed, adding that suppliers "know who is affected and have a solution".

Energy UK said in a statement: "As soon as the issue came to light companies began work to fix it and arrange refunds.

"In some cases a customer's meter will have already been fixed as programmes get under way across the country. All the companies involved will be working over the coming months to get round everyone who is affected."

Pre-payment meters use a calorific value (CV) code to calculate the amount of gas to be charged for.

But the fault meant the CV for some meters was not set properly, resulting in inaccurate readings.

Energy UK said affected meters would be fixed in a roll-out starting today, and the first of the refunds were expected to be given out before Christmas.

Full article on MSN Money

The Big Freeze 2014 - How To Save Money

It looks like Britain is in for the coldest winter in 100 years. Each year many vulnerable people die because of the cold. Often, simply because they couldn't afford to keep the heating on. With the big energy companies increasing their bills by up to 30% or more in just a couple of years homeowners across the country are feeling the squeeze.

There are many things that we can do to save a little money on our energy bills. There is a short list of some examples we found in an article on MSN money.

  1. Keep your thermostat set to around 21° C. Every degree above this adds unnecessary expenses to you monthly bills. Jumpers, gowns, blankets and warm socks are an easy way to warm up and be comfortable, and best of all because nothing.
  2. Don't block your radiator or keep your curtains open when you're not in. You want the warm air to circulate the room freely while curtains can help reduce the loss of heat through your windows. Also keep your doors closed. This is a great way to keep the heat in the rooms.
  3. Repair draughty windows, insulate your loft, cavity walls and draft proof your doors. Set your radiators thermostats and ensure that your central heating has been set to switch on and switch off automatically. This means that you won't be heating an empty house while the whole family is out at work all day. Likewise, you may want to heating to switch off for a few hours in the middle of the night and then switch on again before you get up.
  4. Consider updating your old boiler with an energy-efficient condensing boiler and why not ask your energy supplier to send you a smart meter and put you on a monthly direct debits. A smart meter will show you when you are using the most energy and a monthly direct debit not only gives you a small discount but also helps you plan your outgoing bills.

There is a link to the article on MSN money. Stay warm and stay safe and best of all have a great winter and festive season.

Spate Of Cowboy Builder Just Before Winter Sets In

There have been a spate of Rogue tradesmen / Cowboy Builders ripping of homeowners of late. Warnings from local councils and local police forces abound, but are homeowners taking this threat serioulsy enough?



Here is FairTrades Associations response to these nefarious activity.


‘The best way that the homeowner can protect themselves from a rogue trader is to use a local established, qualified, reputable tradesmen that can provide references from previous installations, has the correct insurance in place and the financial stability to support him through good times and bad. If a tradesman says he is a member of a trade association, give them a call and confirm this and check that all credentials are up to date.’

Fair Trades was established in 1983 to provide the general public with a register of vetted tradesmen that could be relied upon to offer valued professional workmanship across a broad spectrum of trades. All Fair Trades members agree to a code of conduct when they join.

FairTrades is an approved scheme operator for the Government endorsed TrustMark scheme set up to help consumers find reputable tradesmen to carry out work in the home improvement industry.

http://www.trustmark.org.uk and http://www.fairtrades.co.uk

The following is general advice from the Fair Trades website http://www.fairtrades.co.uk

Rogue Traders – Consumers Can Protect Themselves


In basic terms, there are three ways in which a rogue trader operates.

Firstly, they may diagnose the wrong problem. This means that whatever work that they do (and charge you for) will not result in the problem being fixed.

Secondly, they may carry out labour and buy materials that are not necessary for carrying out the repair.

Thirdly, you may simply be overcharged for the work carried out.

There is no law against traders going door to door in order to drum up business. But they must follow the rules applying to doorstep selling otherwise they would be breaking the law.

If your chosen tradesman is a member of a trade association then call the trade association they claim to be members of and confirm they are fully paid up members and you're your tradesman to show you their Membership Certificate at the very least. Always obtain more than one quotation and never agree to a price without sleeping on it. There are two reasons, the first is so that you do not feel pressured in to a deal you may regret and secondly all the tradesmen listed here agree that you should be free to make an informed decision and check any references first.

In our opinion the key to successfully finding the right trades person stems from:

Firstly - Receiving recommendations from trade associations, family, friends, neighbours and your work colleagues.

Secondly - Knowing not only which questions to ask before you employ a contractor, but also not being rushed in to that decision.

Thirdly - Getting to know the tradesman or his company by checking their membership of trade associations with those trade bodies, speaking to their former clients, and lastly by checking you are able to contact them at a physical office which they operate from on a full time basis. Do all of this prior to commencement of work.

Homeowners and Landlords Beware-Employing Unregistered Gas Fitters Is Illegal

Homeowners and Landlords Beware-Employing Unregistered Gas Fitters Is Illegal

An Essex landlord has recently been fined £950 and ordered to pay £4000 in costs after failing to abide by health and safety regulations dictating the use of registered gas safety fitters.

Homeowners/Landlords wishing to learn more about this regulation should look up Regulation 36(4) of the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998. (We suggest starting here)

Undertaking any gas related work within a home, rental properties, or businesses comes with a legal requirement to ensure that a competent, qualified tradesman is used to carry out the work and this means that the engineer must be registered with the gas safety register.

Not only will the homeowner/landlord/business owner be prosecuted, but the tradesman would also be prosecuted separately if found to be in contravention of the regulations.

Boilers, fireplaces and gas cookers require tradesmen who are competent and legally allowed to work on them. Only those who are competent and registered may do so. Until a few years ago, any tradesman working with  gas required to be registered with corgi. The corgi gas register ended on 31 March 2009 with the scheme being taken over on 1 April by the gas safe register. For gas installers to work legally they must be registered with the gas safe register.

Every gas safe registered engineer carries the gas safe ID card. The gas safe ID card stipulates which types of gas appliances your tradesman is qualified to work on. . All trade associations actively encourage members of the public, landlords and business owners alike to insist on seeing proof of registration with gas safe prior to any work commencing. Every year there are hundreds of reports of illegal  gas work being carried out which are investigated by the health and safety executive.

If you are looking to carry out any home improvement work, why not have a look through our tradesmen’s directory and see if we can help you find a suitable company.

UK Tradesmen Are Working Longer Hours and Harder Than Ever Before

UK Tradesmen Are Working Longer Hours and Harder Than Ever Before

We just found a great article in the Installer magazine online. The magazine makes for great reading for heating, plumbing and renewable professionals. Providing the latest news, product and training information to the heating industry! Tradesmen are working longer hours than ever, willing to sacrifice holidays and weekends in a bid to squeeze more jobs in.

The average tradesman works between 41 and 50 hours a week, more than bankers (40.9 hours), medical practitioners (38.4 hours), barristers and judges (36 hours), and accountants (35.6 hours)*. A fifth of tradesmen work more than 50 hours a week, compared to the UK average of 36.4 hours**.

“For a lot of tradesmen, time is money, and so any opportunity to squeeze in an extra job is snatched up. This can mean long working hours and driving further from home to increase their workload. However, by finding ways to work more effectively, they can cut their working hours.

“Tradesmen have told us that using technology allows them to work more efficiently, by helping them to communicate with clients, invoice jobs and buy supplies for their business.”

 It continues ... Read the full article click here

To help tradesmen fit everything in, Screwfix stores are now open seven days a week and from 7am – 8pm on weekdays. This gives customers the flexibility and convenience of dropping in when it suits them and, with more than 270 trade only counters nationwide, there is always a Plumbfix store nearby to stock up on the essentials.

Other findings from the research include:
•    58% of tradesmen take fewer than 26 holidays per year
•    87% of tradesmen are driving the same amount or more this year (2012 vs. 2013)
•    62% of tradesmen eat a packed lunch each day
•    Tea is the most popular drink (57% of tradesmen choose this)
•    8 out of 10 tradesmen skip meals while working
•    Average lunch break for tradesmen is 10 – 20 minutes
•    73% of tradesmen think they don’t take enough exercise
•    17% of tradesmen walk to work
•    83%  of tradesmen are working the same hours or more this year (2012 vs. 2013)

For more information on Plumbfix’s range of products, visit www.plumbfix.com, call free on 0808 101 0000 or pick up the latest catalogue from your nearest store.

 It continues ... Read the full article click here









Fair Trades is the trading name of Fair Trades Ltd. Fair Trades Ltd is registered in England
Company Number 1813671. Registered Office is Suite 40B, Port of Liverpool Building, Pier Head, Liverpool, L1 1BY
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