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How to Deal With Rogue Traders

The rogue trader in Andalucia can offer to work for less than a regular trader because they do not pay tax, iva or social security

By Nick Nutter | Last Updated 3 Apr 2022 | Andalucia | Living In Andalucia

Spring is in the air here in Andalucia, the weather is becoming warmer, the skies bluer and plants and insects are emerging into the light after their winter hibernation. As the weather improves, many householders start to think about home and garden improvements and renovations but beware, scorpions and beetles are not the only things creeping out from under rocks, you also have the ‘rogue traders’, and, to be fair, ‘rogue customers’.

Before we go any further, I have to say that most traders in Andalucia are capable, honest, hardworking people who are only interested in doing a good job, being paid and leaving a satisfied customer. Occasionally you will come across traders who will take your money, do a quick job that is not up to specification and leave you, the customer, angry and disappointed. The advice given in this article is a result of personal experience having lived and had businesses in Andalucia for over 20 years and yes, our latest experience did leave us angry, disappointed and determined to obtain restitution. The advice here is intended to protect both the customer and legitimate traders.

What is a ‘Rogue Trader’ (and how do you identify one)?

The out and out rogue trader will be ‘working on the black’. That is, he or she will be working, being paid and will not be declaring income or IVA (the equivalent of VAT in the UK), nor paying social security. This rogue trader can offer to work for somewhat less than a regular trader because they do not have the overheads of, in 2022, 21% IVA and a minimum of 19% tax plus a portion of their social security (minimum about 250€s per month for a sole trader). Now most of us like a bargain but consider the following:
If you employ somebody working on the black you will not receive a legal factura (invoice), you will not be able to claim the cost of the work against your own tax, for instance if you renovated a rental property or the work was associated with your own business.
You will not be able to take any legal action to obtain redress in the event of goods or work supplied not being up to specification and you leave yourself open to a fine if the tax authorities discover that you have paid cash in hand.
Finally, there is the ethical question. You are depriving a regular trader who does pay tax, social security and IVA, of work.

If you decide to save yourself a few euros by employing on the black then you need not read any further because there is no legal action you can take to obtain redress in the event you have a complaint.

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What is a Legal Factura?

A legal factura will have the name, address, contact details and NIE/CIF number of the trader and of the customer. It will be properly dated, have a unique number, and show net value of goods and services and the relevant IVA charged for those goods and services. If the factura you receive does not have those details, then demand that it be re-issued.

What is a Rogue Customer?

A rogue customer is one that wants everything for nothing, or as close to nothing as they can achieve. They complain about everything and, at the end of the day, claim restitution for work not done or goods supplied being faulty or not satisfactory whether their claim is justified or not.

Not Quite a Rogue Trader

Then there are the occasional rogue traders. They appear to be legitimate and possibly are some or most of the time. They may have premises, letterheaded notepaper, business cards, issue legal IVA facturas, drive sign written vehicles, and have staff and employees. Some will be tempted to take ‘short cuts’ in the work they do and supply goods inferior in quality and price to those quoted for, thereby increasing their profit.

How to Avoid Being Stung by a Rogue Trader or a Rogue Customer

When ordering from samples take a photograph of what you order, ask the supplier to hold up the sample in one hand and in the other have a written specification include the name, size, colour and finished quality (matt, shiny etc.) of the product.

When ordering from units displayed in a showroom take a photograph of the units that you order, including one showing the finish of the inside, plus any manufacturer label.

Whether in the showroom or your own property, document what is said, either handwritten or use your mobile to video what you agree on. Agree the conversation later by email so that you have it in writing.

Agree a sensible timescale and document this, if possible, bring in penalty clauses for overrunning.

Obtain a prespuesto (quotation). Make sure that every item required for the job appears on the presupuesto, that it is clearly described, showing the make, model, size, colour, quality, quantities and price, anything pertinent, most especially for expensive items. This will help avoid cheap Chinese products being foisted on you. The prespuesto should include the cost of the work for erecting or fitting.

Agree a Payment Plan to Suit the Job

Whilst the Work is Underway

Whilst the work is underway, keep an eye on progress and how the job is being done. Unless you have employed an architect or project manager, then you have to perform this task yourself. If you see anything you are unhappy with, for instance damaged or sub-standard fittings being installed or witness incompetent work, for instance excessive use of hammers to put things into place, then stop the work and call the boss. Document work as it progresses with photos on your mobile.

All being well you and the trader will part on good terms with a job well done.

How to Complain

If you have a legitimate complaint at the end of the work, then you must complain first to the trader. Make sure you have the complaint and the response in writing. Nine times out of ten the matter will be sorted to everybody’s satisfaction at this stage.

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The Libro de Reclamaciones

Every business and sole trader should have, by law, a libro de reclamaciones, a complaints book. They should also have a sign informing the customer that they have such a book. For some reason, many British expatriates are unwilling to ask for the complaints book, even though this is the next stage in the complaint procedure and costs nothing other than time.

If the business will not or cannot produce a complaints book then they can be reported to the local police who can impose an immediate fine and, in some cases, close the business down until a complaints book is produced.

The complaints form should be completed in triplicate. The book has the modern version of carbon paper so that your writing is carried down through each level. There are only a couple of lines for the actual substance of the complaint so make it succinct. You can complete the form in Spanish or English.

Date the form and make sure the business stamp appears on each copy.

Take the top two copies, leaving the third copy in the complaints book.

The Complaints Procedure

Gather together evidence proving your complaint, emails, photographs etc.

At this stage the trader and yourself have 10 working days in which to reach an amicable agreement over the complaint.

If no such agreement is forthcoming then you should take your two copies of the complaint form, plus your additional evidence, to your local consumer office which is often in your Ayuntamiento (town hall) building, they will advise you further.

It is extremely rare for complaints to reach this stage. Our complaint was satisfactorily resolved during the ten working days.

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Comments

  • Karen Ayers - 4 Apr 2022
    Interesting you say the libro de reclamaciones can be completed in English. The advice on local forums always says it has to be completed in Spanish, which is probably why a lot of British people aren’t keen to take this step.
    • Nick Nutter - 5 Apr 2022
      Hi Karen, The older complaints books only had captions in Spanish. The newer ones have captions in Spanish and English. The downloadable form (so that you can practice at home) is also in Spanish and English. It is obviously better to complete the form in Spanish and have your evidence translated into Spanish in case you have to take the complaint to its final, litigation, stage.
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