Over half of UK tradespeople ‘left in the lurch’ by customers

goatsNew research from Direct Line for Business (DL4B) reveals that more than half of tradespeople (52%) in the UK, have attended a call out in the last 12 months, only to find that the customer was not home and in more than a third of these cases (35%), the customer failed to turn up at all.

Even if the customer was there waiting, in nearly one in five cases (18%), the tradesperson still didn’t get to meet them, having been given the wrong address by the customer for the call.

,Though a missing customer or a wrong address isn’t the only challenge that tradespeople face; getting paid for the work they do can be a struggle. The survey discovered that within the last year, nearly one in five tradespeople (18%) had completed jobs, only to find customers did not have funds to pay them. 

The research also heard about some ‘creative solutions’ from customers looking to avoid paying their bills; just over one in 10 (11%) of the tradespeople surveyed said that customers had tried to pay their bill with goods and services, with one in 25 (4%) propositioned in lieu of pay!

,DL4B’s research also outlined tradespeople’s most frivolous callouts, including a carpenter, who was called out to a property where he had recently fitted a new door, having been told the lock did not work, only to find that the customer was using her old key; electricians being called out to change light bulbs, with one finding this out only after travelling eight miles to the customer’s house and a gardener who was tasked with catching a customer’s goats.

,Some customers were also said to be ‘ingenious and outlandish’ with their excuses for breakages and property damage; a carpenter was blamed for a dripping tap after visiting the house to install a new bathroom window. 

Jazz Gakhal, head of DL4B, commented: “Tradespeople fulfil a vital role in our day to day lives and are some of the few strangers that we will allow into areas of our homes such as our bedrooms, bathrooms and living rooms. So it’s not a surprise that they witness more than their fair share of interesting events!  It is a shame that some people do not respect hardworking tradesmen enough to be on time at an appointment.”

,“That said, tradespeople should also be aware of this too. Working in a customer’s house provides a number of unique risks and challenges. For example, many of the tradespeople we surveyed were blamed for damaged property after a call out. Tradespeople must ensure that they are adequately protected through careful work, managing customer expectations and investigating the benefits of purchasing public liability insurance.”

,DL4B offers tradespeople the following tips on how to deal with customers:


  • Manage expectations – Agree on a price before starting a job and clearly explain the estimated time of the work and the reasons behind this
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  • Job de-brief – Ensure that you properly de-brief a customer on what was done, how a job was completed and if there are any issues that they must watch out for
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  • Meet deadlines – Set yourself achievable objectives so that you do not overrun jobs or miss appointments. If a job is going to be finished later than first anticipated tell the customer and explain why this is
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  • Public liability insurance – If you regularly work on customers’ properties, DL4B says it would be wise to investigate public liability insurance to cover against claims made by members of the public who have suffered injury or damage to their property in connection with your work

Direct Line for Business offers up to £1m public liability cover as standard. More can be learned about Public Liabi

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