Can you spot a cowboy?

7 Feb

I know what you are thinking, you’re thinking “of course I can, the hat, the horse and the 6 shooter gives it away”, and you’re right. But can you just as easily spot a rogue tradesman type cowboy? Probably not, they don’t conform to a particular look in the same fashion as Billy the kid did. Here are two quick facts, which make for uncomfortable reading:

 • According to the Trading Standards, it is estimated that more than 106,000 complaints about rogue traders are logged every year!

 • Disreputable companies carrying out substandard work wastes £1.5billion each year

How to protect yourself from cowboys?

If you are just starting out on some improvements to your home and looking for a window installer, then why not check the FENSA website out for registered fitters in your area. All you need do is provide your post code and the website brings back a list of trusted FENSA registered installers.
The web page you want is .
The result list will provide you with a company name, address, contact details and wherever possible email options, we also show their FENSA registered number… Of course though, you may already have an installer in mind, or your builder is putting you in touch with one, so what can you do.
Well in this case look for the FENSA logo. If you don’t notice one, ask if they are a FENSA registered company. If a company is registered with FENSA (and some 9,000+ businesses are) then that means the installer is subject to regular assessments on adherence to Building Regulations standards.

Remember, you can contact FENSA to check if a company is FENSA registered. If you are told they are, then still check, as some cowboys stop at nothing to try and trick you. How can I spot a cowboy? There are a number of give-away signs with the cowboy. Just like the cowboys of the wild west, there are certain attributes you find all cowboys have. Here are some of the telling signs of a cowboy:

• References: A cowboy won’t want to provide you with details of previous jobs. Ask yourself why?

• Contract: Cowboys will inevitable try to avoid any written agreements and may even suggest that a contract is not needed

• Cheap Deals: Ahh, the cheap “for one day only” offers. Often cowboys try to overwhelm you with these type of offers to make you part with cash up front

• VAT: Often a cowboy will do you a VAT free deal for cash.

• Time frames: A cowboy often will not agree on firm time frames or completion dates. Watch out for this and statements such as “things may crop up”

• Competition: Cowboys are often underhand when talking about competition, often criticising competitors greatly

• Premises: Contact details are often just mobile numbers. A reputable company should provide business cards with full details, names, registered business addresses and contact numbers. Some will also have their own websites.

• Start straight away: A cowboy will often state he can start straight away. Good window fitters are often in constant demand, so starting straight away isn’t always something they can offer

 • Confidence: Cowboys may not understand the building regulations or keep themselves up to date with any changes to the law, building regulations or latest industry developments. If you don’t feel confidence in the installers knowledge, then you probably are correct and shouldn’t feel confident in their ability to do a good job

Is there any more information I can read?


FENSA are proactive in trying to help consumers spot the cowboys and report them. You can download / read the FENSA guide to spotting cowboys here . FENSA also has a website dedicated to stopping the cowboys Take your time and have a look through this website as it will help you spot a cowboy. In addition it will provide you with information on knowing your rights, and how to report a cowboy….


One Response to “Can you spot a cowboy?”

  1. Double Glazing Fitter March 15, 2011 at 10:18 am #

    I understand this as every customer I have served that did not use a Fensa registered company always had trouble witht he installation and guarantee after being in the industry for many years the vetting and training Fensa gives ensures you are protected.

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