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A bit intimidated, shy, or just not sure what to ask?

New Phone App helps you talk to your tradesman.

It’s no wonder so many people end up with problems with their builders, plumbers, electricians and other tradesmen.

Over half of British homeowners admit that they forget to ask the right questions when they invite tradesmen into their homes to quote for a job, and almost one in five of us forgets to ask a really important question.  Too often we are handing over the repair, maintenance or improvement of our most prized possession – our home – after only the briefest of conversations.

Younger homeowners are particularly vulnerable and lacking in confidence, with almost half turning to their parents for help when it comes to employing a tradesman.

But smartphone technology has come to the rescue.

TrustMark, the Government endorsed quality mark to help people find reputable tradesmen, has launched a new phone app to help us ask all the right questions and to have more confident conversations with a tradesman before we accept a quote for work to be done in or around our home.

Liz Male, Chairman of TrustMark, said:

“Trying to remember all the questions you really should ask, or actually having the confidence to ask all those questions when you’ve got a tradesman in your home, is not that easy, even for the most experienced of customers. And how many of us remember the detail of what we discussed the moment that tradesman walks out the door?

“The TrustMark app helps to solve that problem.  In 11 easy steps, the app creates an instant record of the conversation. It prompts questions and provides advice at every stage telling you what to look out for and your consumer rights.  You can record what is agreed using text, photos and record a brief audio note, and then email a copy to yourself and the tradesman.  You can compare notes on the firms you see.  And if you’re not intending to draw up a proper contract when the job goes ahead, this is probably the next best thing.”

The TrustMark app was launched by Vince Cable, Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, at a reception in Westminster attended by trade bodies and consumer protection groups.

Vince Cable said:

“The majority of work carried out by our trades is done to a very high standard. TrustMark has been successfully providing consumers with an impartial assessment of the standards of local tradespeople, to help them make informed decisions when hiring contractors to improve their homes.

“The newly launched application provides another useful tool to consumers by bringing TrustMark’s expert guidance directly to householders through the latest innovative channels.”

The app launch has been sponsored by Stephen Lloyd, MP for Eastbourne and Willingdon who, following the jailing of four cowboy builders in his local area, has championed the services offered by TrustMark.

He led the  Westminster Hall debate in 2011 which discussed what the Government had in place to combat rogue tradesmen  and how TrustMark is raising standards by giving homeowners greater guidance and protection.

Stephen Lloyd MP said:

“This app will help protect consumers as well as providing support for home refurbishment  initiatives such as the forthcoming Green Deal scheme which aims to help and encourage people to upgrade and improve the energy efficiency of  their homes.”

Ron Gainsford, Chief Executive of the Trading Standards Institute, said:

“This new app from TrustMark is excellent as it gives consumers increased empowerment and guidance when talking to tradesmen, prior to employing them to do work on their homes.”

Emma Clancy, Chief Executive of Ascertiva Group, said:

“TrustMark’s new ‘talk to your tradesman’ app will help improve communications between the tradesman and the homeowner, ensuring any misunderstandings are avoided from day one.”

So whether it is to fit a new Gas Fire, Cooker, Stove or simply wanting to have a towel radiator put in? The TrustMark app is free and available for iPhones from today, with additional versions for other smartphones coming later this year.

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