AN elderly couple have been left £700 out of pocket after being conned by cowboy gardeners.
The couple, who live in the Throston area of Hartlepool but didn’t want to be named, agreed to have their overgrown trees and conifers cut down after three men knocked on their door asking if they wanted garden work doing.
The men, who arrived in a white Transit van and all wore green T-shirts, started work on Monday and left on the evening after the couple handed over £700 in cash.
The “workers” left some equipment at the house and said they would be back on Tuesday morning to pick it up, and would also take away the branches and twigs left all over the garden and drive.
They returned as promised at 10am the next day but left soon after when they said they had another job. But they never came back and the devastated couple haven’t seen them since.
The pensioners admit they should never have trusted the men in the first place. But they are now urging other people not to make the same mistake.
“We never answer cold-callers normally. It’s awful to think we have paid that money and our garden has been left in this state,” said the homeowner. “We needed our garden trimming down, so when they came to the door we decided to agree.
“It started at £60 for each bush. We mentioned the back garden and they said it would cost £700 altogether to take some of the trees down.”
“They worked hard on the Monday but I should have known, they didn’t wear any safety helmets or harnesses at all. It’s just a big con, and we were tricked.”
The homeowners said two of the men were about 20 and the third man looked older.
The two younger men had Mohican-style haircuts and drove a Transit van with a horse box. “It’s awful to think we have paid that money and they have left us like this,” added the resident.
“I don’t want other people to make the same mistake and end up out of pocket.”
Cleveland Police said residents should make a number of checks before agreeing with anybody to start work on their property.
A spokeswoman said: “If residents are approached at their house by workmen we would advise them to get several quotes and references if possible.
“Once the householder has chosen who is going to do the work then both parties should agree on exactly what is included in the price quoted and accepted.”