Ben Jensen is warning Gympie region residents to be on the lookout for itinerant traders operating in the area after he had dealings with them.
Ben Jensen is warning Gympie region residents to be on the lookout for itinerant traders operating in the area after he had dealings with them. Renee Pilcher

Bitumen bandits strike again

NOT much can get past Ben Jensen. He may look like easy prey to a con artist, but this 80-something Kybong resident is still as sharp as ever.

When a strange caller came to his house acting like a door-to-door salesman offering to do up his driveway with a fresh layer of asphalt on the cheap, Mr Jensen could see it was a con.

“They were very forceful but they picked the wrong person,” he told The Gympie Times to warn readers of the dangers lurking around.

“I said it lasted me for 35 years, it should last the rest of my life.

“They offered to me a damn good deal – $24 a sq m – so I asked to see some paperwork and as soon as they handed me the folder I could see it was fake – just done on the computer.”

Mr Jensen said a pair of men, one in his 30s and the other in his 50s, were with a young child in an olive-coloured Ford Falcon, or similar, when they turned up at his property this month.

The younger man did all the talking while the older man and child stayed in the car.

“He said they were doing another job for someone up the road and when I asked who it was he said he couldn’t remember. He then reduced the price to $18 per sq m.

“I said let’s go up to the gate and take a look at the bitumen I had laid about 30 years ago. One bloke came with me and the other stayed with the car and drove out of the property.

“My sole intention was to get rid of them without any incident.

“So I got them out and asked for some background and paperwork to take to council and get the okay to bitumen the driveway on their property.

“Then the older bloke started calling the younger bloke to come back to the car. They couldn’t get away quick enough. They were obviously shysters, there’s no doubt about that.”

Executive director of the Office of Fair Trading Brian Bauer said information had been received about local residents being targeted with offers of cheap bitumen.

“The usual ploy for itinerant bitumen layers is they offer you a cheap driveway using bitumen ‘left over from another job’ but you need to take up the offer immediately,” he said.

 

HOT TIPS TO AVOID BEING CONNED:

Office of Fair Trading executive director Brian Bauer said Mr Jensen was right to hear alarm bells ringing when asked for an up-front payment for a bitumen driveway.

He said the Australian Consumer Law had very strict rules about door-to-door trading to protect consumers from these types of travelling con artists.

“The law states that door-to-door traders cannot take any payments or deposits for goods or services, if they are valued at more than $100,” Mr Bauer said.

“You must also be given a 10-day cooling-off period and be provided with documentation to enable you to cancel the contract at any stage during this period.”

Door-to-door traders must also:

  • Explain, up front, the purpose of the visit and produce identification.
  • Inform you that you can ask them to leave at any time.
  • Leave the premises if you ask them to do so.
  • Explain your cooling-off rights.
  • Give you a written copy of the agreement.
  • Provide their contact details in the agreement.
  • Provide a copy of the signed agreement showing the total price, including GST, of the goods or services provided (or describe in detail how the total price is to be calculated).
  • Provide a termination notice which outlines your right to cancel the agreement.
  • Mr Bauer said breaches of the door-to-door provisions of the Australian Consumer Law could result in fines of up to $10,000 for an individual and $50,000 for a corporation.
Gympie Times

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