A County Armagh landscape gardener has been fined and ordered to pay compensation after laying artificial grass “to a very poor standard”.
James Maughan, trading as Done Deal Home Improvements, admitted three charges after being brought before the courts by Trading Standards.
The 23-year-old, from Lakeview Court in Craigavon, was slapped with a fine for £500 on one charge.
And Belfast Magistrates’ Court also ordered that he pay back £1,650 to a client whom he had contacted online.
Maughan admitted the charges under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008.
He was given a conditional discharge for two years in relation to each of two other charges, which related to a failure to provide the consumer with paperwork as required by law and failing to provide landscaping materials for which he was paid an additional £150.
The court heard how in June last year, Maughan, under his trading name, responded to a request on an online platform from a resident in Carrickfergus who wanted some landscaping work carried out.
On June 6 he called to the man’s property and a price of £1,750 was agreed for the main element of the job, which was the laying of artificial grass to the rear of the house, along with the laying of some stone to the front and bark to a sloping area at the back.
Work started on June 8 and the following day the artificial grass was laid.
The next day, however, the householder complained to Maughan about the quality of his workmanship; how the soil had not been levelled properly and the absence of any anti-weed membrane.
Maughan assured him it would be rectified and over the next few days laid out some of the stones and the bark.
However, June 19 – only 10 days after it had been laid – the artificial lawn came loose in the wind and the householder had to roll it up to prevent it blowing away.
By this stage Maughan had been paid the quoted price of £1,750, plus a further £150 for additional stones and bark, which were never supplied.
The defendant failed to respond to the customer’s telephone calls or texts after that.
The householder eventually engaged another contractor to relay the artificial grass. Even though they used the same grass as originally supplied by Maughan the final bill came to £1,700.
The Co Armagh tradesman also failed to provide the householder with certain information as required under consumer protection law, such as a proper business address and notice of his cancellation rights.
Kevin McNamara, of the Trading Standards Service, said: “This is another example of a trader carrying out poor quality work, leaving his victim with another bill to get the job completed properly.
“At a time of rising prices and increased cost of living, it’s important for consumers to have confidence in local tradespeople and to expect good quality and professional services.”
He added: “Going by the complaints we receive, consumers should be just as wary of traders who offer their services on online platforms as those who cold call at the doorstep.
“The same advice still applies as with getting any work done; try and get more than one quote, don’t be rushed into entering into a contract and don’t pay large amounts of money upfront.
“Anyone who believes they have been the victim of a rogue trader should contact Consumerline on 0300 123 6262 for advice.”