Don’t get caught by the cowboys

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COUNTY residents are being urged to check their aerial status to help avoid getting caught out by cowboy installers.

The warning from Northumberland’s public protection service, issued in the week where the North East starts the final switchover process to digital television, follows a series of complaints about overcharging and poor workmanship.

In one instance, a plastic box was described as a booster box and was gaffer taped to a householder’s aerial. When the box was removed it was found to be empty and would not have done anything for that person’s reception.

Jimmy Power, Business and Consumer Protection Manager, said: “Any change which requires the public to seek advice from experts can leave residents open to exploitation from those who may advise that unnecessary and sometimes expensive work is needed.”

Advice from Digital UK is that very few people will need a new aerial – the most common abuse is to fit one unnecessarily.

Coun Anita Romer, executive member for health and public protection, said: “If someone tells you that you need a new aerial or equipment please check this out before agreeing to any work.

“Don’t be scared to say no until you have checked or got a second opinion. If you need help to check, either ask a family member or neighbour to lend a hand or ring Digital UK.

“We would always advise anyone who needs work carrying out around their house to protect themselves from exploitation and use a business from the North Tyneside and Northumberland Trader Register.”

More information about the register scheme is available online at www.traderregister.org.uk or by calling 0845 6006400 and asking for the Trader Register Scheme.

Digital UK’s website can be viewed at www.digitaluk.co.uk and there is a section which explains how much an aerial should cost. The organisation can be contacted by telephone on 08456 505050. If you are over 75 or disabled there is a help scheme specifically for you.