A new smartphone app to encourage confident conversations between homeowners and tradesmen was launched on Tuesday, at an event attended by trade bodies and consumer protection groups.
A new smartphone app to encourage confident conversations between homeowners and tradesmen was launched on Tuesday 19 June, at an event attended by trade bodies and consumer protection groups.
Developed by TrustMark, the free app is designed to prompt homeowners to ask the right questions when tradesmen are quoting for work.
The Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, Vince Cable (Right), was there to promote the app, saying that anything that can reinforce consumer confidence is welcome.
“The new application provides another useful tool to consumers by bringing TrustMark’s expert guidance directly to householders through the latest innovative channels,” he said.
“From several points of view this takes us forward. It’s good for the consumers, it’s good for the trades, and it’s good for government because we see a problem being solved.”
Following 11 simple steps, homeowners are able to write down answers and agreed details at each stage and generate an instant record that can be emailed to the tradesman.
By adding text, photos and audio recordings, an accurate record of the conversation is logged providing clarity for both parties.
The app was championed by Stephen Lloyd, MP for Eastbourne and Willingdon who also sees it as a valuable tool for Green Deal projects.
“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.”
The chair of TrustMark, Liz Male (above), was particularly grateful for the support shown by the ministers and their departments.
‘We understand that communication is vital to a good working relationship between a homeowner and a tradesman,” she said.
“The checklist approach helps people ask questions that they might otherwise feel a bit awkward about, but which are essential when considering employing a firm and agreeing the work in question.”
She highlighted the £2 billion worth of work that could be created by the Green Deal yet falls outside of Green Deal funding and protection.
“TrustMark is the only scheme backed by government that gives protection to the 14 million households who will start commissioning this kind of work,” she said.
“It’s a valuable safeguard for all builders and their customers.”
“For anybody who cares about consumer protection, consumer empowerment, the reputation and growth of SME’s in the UK and the reputation of our fantastic tradesmen, I urge you all, please give TrustMark your full backing. Spread the word about the app and using TrustMark registered tradesmen and help us build a strong and effective scheme for the future.”
Research commissioned by TrustMark revealed that over half of British homeowners (54%) admit they forget to ask the right questions when they invite tradesmen into their homes to quote for a job, and almost one in five forgets to ask a really important question.
Younger homeowners are particularly vulnerable and lacking in confidence, with almost half (46%) turning to their parents for help.
Ron Gainsford, chief executive of the Trading Standards Institute, said it was all about empowering consumers to make the right decisions.
“It’s also of course about helping good business, and there are so many good businesses that want to compete in a fair and equal market, one that’s genuinely competitive and one that’s not subject to the trials and tribulations that some traders may choose to introduce into the market place,” he said.
Paul Ramsden non-executive director at TrustMark said he thought an app would be beneficial in order to keep up with current trends.
“There’s always a fear of something new,” he admitted. “You’ve got to get to that tipping point where enough people are using it and get comfortable with it.”
The Trust Mark app is currently available for iPhone, with additional versions for other smart phones coming later this year. A paper copy of the questions and guidance is also available.
To download the app, visit http://www.trustmark.org.uk/apps.