AN online directory aimed at helping residents avoid bogus traders and rip-off merchants has launched in the Capital.
Dozens of businesses have already signed up to Trusted Trader – billed as a TripAdvisor-style “go to list” for everyday repairs.
Only firms which are fully vetted by the city’s Trading Standards officials will be added, providing protection against criminals pretending to be legitimate operators.
It is also hoped the scheme will restore trust in local contractors, as corrupt council officials and former building firm directors face jail for their part in the property care scandal.
And with the statutory repairs system also mired in controversy, consultation has found homeowners are hesitant about organising shared work in common areas.
Residents who use trusted traders will also be able to rate them afterwards and leave comments for others to read.
Jason Staines, director at GW & JS Construction Ltd, said: “I personally think trust is quite a big issue. I think it’s always in the back of people’s minds, with the corruption that’s been going on – there’s always a fear that the same thing might happen to them.
“I think the Trusted Trader scheme is definitely the way forward to put trust back into the public.”
Steve Richardson, managing director of Trusted Directory Services (TDS), which will help manage the scheme, said it would also help alleviate fears over bogus callers.
He said: “This is all to do with the fight against rogue traders.
“It’s about telling residents that these firms are fully vetted by Edinburgh Trading Standards. Every trader on the site is fully vetted but also reviewed by customers.
“Each trader must also keep obtaining customer feedback and any negative reviews will be fully investigated.”
It is estimated that Edinburgh Trusted Trader will reach more than 225,000 households, with all approved members able to use the scheme’s logo on materials and vehicles.
The scheme – which follows the launch of similar directories in West and East Lothian, as well as Dundee and Fife – also includes a dispute resolution process to smooth disagreements between customers and member businesses.
Complaints will initially be probed by TDS before possible escalation to Trading Standards investigators and, in rare cases, the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman.
Police Scotland said the new site was a welcome weapon in the fight against fraudsters.
Chief Superintendent Mark Williams said: “Doorstep criminals and rogue traders are despicable and cause misery to those they target. The Trusted Trader scheme will provide the public with simple advice before having repairs, maintenance or building work carried out.”
Councillor Cammy Day, community safety leader, said: “I am confident that this scheme will help build on consumer confidence in trades and look forward to seeing more businesses and individuals signing up to be a trusted trader.”