Family firm in court over after 'misleading' homeowner over driveway work

A woman who was left feeling ashamed and less trusting of others after being overcharged and misled over poor quality home improvement work is to receive £9,000 in compensation.

By Fiona Thompson
Friday, 26 April, 2019, 13:35
The driveway which led to the Dolan family being put before a court.

Following an investigation by Durham County Council’s trading standards team, Arthur Dolan, Margaret Elizabeth Dolan and William Dolan, Haswell residents who are all of A D & Sons Home Improvement Limited, have been prosecuted for offences against the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008, along with the limited company, A D & Sons Home Improvements.

In May 2017 William Dolan, now 19, who is employed by the company, visited a resident of Auckland Park, near Bishop Auckland, and agreed to power wash the outside areas of theproperty.

The leaflet produced as part of the court proceedings.

During this visit, the resident was also provided with a leaflet advertising further services, including resin bound driveways.

This leaflet described the company’s workforce as being “very experienced in all aspects of driveways and patio surfacing” and that it could complete “any new driveway to the highest of standards”.

As a result, the resident enquired about having a resin-bound driveway and was quoted a price of £5,000 for an area covering the front and rear of their home. It was agreed that thework should go ahead, and the householder made an initial payment of £2,000 in cash.

They later paid a further £3,000, also in cash, for the resin work.

A photo of the problem driveway which was no laid now correctly.

The company also agreed to seal their rear patio area.

When the resident asked when work was going to start on the driveway at the rear of their home, they were told by 42-year-old Arthur Dolan that they had only paid for the front part,but not the back.

He then told the householder that he would do the rest of the drive for a further payment of £4,400.

The resident felt that they had little choice but to go ahead.

They later reported the incident to the council’s trading standards service, believing that they had been misled as to the nature of the work and the price quoted.

A survey commissioned by trading standards found that there had been a significant level of overcharging for the resin surfacing.

It was also found that the work, including the patio sealing, was unfit for purpose.

All the defendants, who live in Gloucester Terrace, Haswell, entered guilty pleas.

The limited company, Arthur Dolan and Margaret Elizabeth Dolan, 39, also pleaded guilty to an offence of engaging in a commercial practice containing misleading information, reflectingtheir false claims about the experience and qualifications of their workforce.

Arthur Dolan was further prosecuted for an offence of engaging in an aggressive commercial practice, arising from the same incident.

Following a not-guilty plea, he was found guilty following a trial at Peterlee Magistrates' Court.

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In mitigation, it was said that William was only 17-years-old at the time of the incident and that Arthur Dolan had been carrying out work for 10 years mainly doing tarmacking, block paving and gate posts.

He did not have the experience for resin drives and hadn’t been on top of the website’s content.

This was managed by somebody else but along with the leaflet has now been updated.

He is a family man who wanted to provide for his family.

Arthur Dolan has been ordered to pay £9,000 in compensation to the victim as well as a £900 fine and £1,412.46 in costs.

His son William Dolan was given a 12-month conditional discharge and ordered to pay £612.46 in costs and a victim surcharge of £30.

Margaret Dolan was fined £400, ordered to pay £612.46 in costs and a £30 victim surcharge.

Their company A D & Sons Home Improvements Limited was also faced with a £400 fine, £612.46 costs and a £30 victim surcharge.

In their victim personal statement the resident said: “I was left feeling ashamed that I had allowed somebody to take advantage of me in the way that happened.

"When the drive started to crumble, I was left feeling angry.

"I was left considerably out of pocket, and although I have had the means to have the driveway taken up and replaced, this may not have been the case had it happened to someone else.

"As a result of the incident, I have felt far less trusting of others.”

Owen Cleugh, Durham County Council’s consumer protection manager, said: “Businesses must be honest in their dealings with their customers, including in their advertising and pricing.

"Customers quite rightly expect businesses to behave fairly, and we are committed to enforcing the legislation when it is necessary and upholding those standards.

“The resident in this case was left considerably out of pocket for work which was significantly overpriced and was misled as to the nature of the service being provided.

"This incident also had an emotional effect on them.

"Our advice would always be for residents to ensure they obtain at least three quotes for home improvements and don’t commit or feel pressured into having works done by cold callers.”

Residents can report incidents to trading standards by calling the consumer helpline on 03454 04 05 06.