West Midlands homeowners put soothing smells and trendy togs before credentials when choosing a tradesmen

25 September 2014
  • 64% of homeowners in the West Midlands would trust a tradesperson based on first appearances rather than professional credentials
  • 75% say fresh breath and an attractive smell are crucial when choosing a workman
  • For 36%, the choice of clothes a tradesman wears affects how trustworthy we think they are!
  • As little as 35% of West Midlands homeowners actually check a tradesmen's professional credentials
  • Nationally, 55% Brits energy companies are the least trusted companies in the UK and being a pilot is seen as the most trustworthy job
  • X Factor mogul, Simon Cowell voted Britain's least trusted celeb whilst Holly Willoughby is the most trusted

In the aftermath of the recession, when it comes to scrutinising our bank statements and supermarket receipts, the West Midlands is a region of cash-conscious consumers.

However, when it comes to picking the right tradesmen for a job in our homes, it seems that some homeowners are foolish, judging workmen at face value rather than checking whether they have the right credentials to do the job.

New research by WaterSafe, the UK's national plumbing register, reveals West Midlands is a region of super sceptics, ever-weary of being ripped off with 61% admitting they're much less trusting of people now than five years ago.

In fact, it appears that the majority of the region's consumers make regular checks in most areas of their life with 66% admitting to double checking their bank statements and 63% their supermarket receipts, while 46% check reviews on holiday resorts and 26% on restaurants before booking. More so, nearly a third (32%) go so far as to rub their details from receipts and shred all personal details to be on the safe side.

In stark contrast, however, when it comes to letting a complete stranger into their homes to carry out ‘professional' work, 64% of West Midlands homeowners place a greater precedence on first impressions than on professional credentials.

Shockingly, the survey reveals 36% judge workmen based on their attire, with 75% saying fresh breath and a nice smell of aftershave or deodorant wins them over and an attractive smile cements it for a fifth of the population (20%). While for nearly a quarter (23%) it appears the tradesman must have a good, well-kept van, with the choice of vehicle being a big player on whether they're legitimate.

In addition, it's emerged that a desirable accent carries a lot of weight for the region with over a third (39%) of West Midlands homeowners saying they prefer the soothing sounds of the popular Queen's English, followed by the Birmingham and West Country accents respectively.

In fact, it would seem that a good first impression could make all the difference between a tradesmen being trusted or busted, with a staggering 76% saying they'd go so far as to stop the trader carrying out work in their home if they felt unsure about them on meeting.

However, when it comes to checking out the qualifications of tradespeople – the assurance that they're fit to do the job – homeowners are happy to throw caution to the wind with a mere third (35%) of the region checking their credentials. This comes as a major concern, given that it is estimated the rogue plumbers alone have cost the nation £2.6billion in recent years.

In a bid to raise the importance of checking a plumber's credentials, WaterSafe has teamed up with broadcaster, journalist and consumer champion, Alice Beer to launch a new campaign, urging homeowners to TAP - Trust Approved Plumbers.

Julie Spinks, Director of WaterSafe, comments: “It's a great shame that, while consumers are increasingly cautious in all others areas of their everyday life, there is still a lack of awareness about the importance of qualifications and how to check them, when it comes to choosing a tradesperson. The reality, however, of not using a properly qualified plumber is not only dangerous; it's a false economy and could end up costing the homeowner a small fortune to repair, not to mention the safety hazards.

"Our message is simple – when choosing a plumber always use the WaterSafe website to make sure you get a qualified professional every time. In this way we, as a nation, can Trust Approved Plumbers. All homeowners need to do is go to the website, type in their postcode and it will provide them with several approved plumbing businesses in their geographical area….go to"

Alice Beer, broadcaster, journalist and consumer champion, adds: "It's absolutely vital that homeowners are checking and double checking the credentials of any tradesman who comes to their door - this is the only way to keep their home and family safe and protected from rogues."

The survey also recent revealed some insight into the nation's most trusted and busted famous faces and professionals.

It seems that celebrities have not escaped the nation's scepticism, with Simon Cowell topping the poll as the UK's least trusted celeb and Holly Willoughby pipping all others firmly to the post as the most trustworthy.

Unsurprisingly, more than half of respondents said the least trustworthy companies are energy companies (55%), followed by tradespeople and banks (43%) estate agents and housing companies (41%). The least trusted careers were found to be Politicians (44%), Car Salesmen (43%) and Estate Agents (39%) with Bankers (38%) and Lawyers (31%) closely following suit. Interestingly the most trusted career was found to be a Pilot, taking 97% of the vote.

*WaterSafe results from October 2013 poll