THE notorious bitumen bandits have been busy, hitting two unsuspecting folk in Boonah and Logan last month. An elderly Sheldon business owner also fell victim to the thugs late last year, shelling out $6600 to a man offering cheap bitumen driveways.
The Office of Fair Trading said it was a scam that had targeted many Queenslanders over the years but with people at home due to COVID-19, the OFT was warning residents that door-to-door scammers were ramping up their operations.
Executive Director Brian Bauer said bitumen bandits were bogus tradespeople who ripped off unsuspecting,vulnerable consumers by peddling bitumen laying services for a supposed substantial discount.
"The scam starts when someone knocks on your door and tells you they have asphalt or bitumen leftover from a nearby job and offer to sell it to you at a heavily reduced cost," Mr Bauer said.
Mr Bauer said the scamsters may ask for a deposit and simply never return to do the work, or they do such a substandard job with watered down bitumen, it may cost a lot more money to fix the job.
"On other occasions, the traders initially quote a low cost but then a much higher payment is demanded during the work for it to be completed.
Consumers are forced to comply because if the work isn't finished, they're unable to use their driveway,Brian Bauer
According to the OFT, bitumen bandits vary their approaches to consumers and mix and match their sales pitches with high pressure tactics, depending on what they think will work with the person they are targeting.
Other common door-to-door scams included offers for tree lopping and stump removal, roof cleaning, repairs and painting, and white van traders who sell electronic equipment like stereos from their vehicles which are later discovered to be knock offs.
However there is help at hand.
Under the Australian Consumer Law. consumers have extra rights if they receive unsolicited approaches by traders at their homes.
Door-to-door traders must advise consumers about a 10-day cooling-off period, and they must not accept payment or begin any services during this time.
"Some door-to-door traders take advantage of the fact that people find it hard to say no or to tell traders to leave, and they pressure consumers into buying goods or services that they may not want or need. It's OK to say no," Mr Bauer said.
Consumers can lodge a complaint against a trader at qld.gov.au/fairtrading or by calling 13 74 68.