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Cowboys are crowned by the consumers



MORE and more time is being given to the cowboy charter by all sorts of distinguished men, most of whom wouldn't know a cowboy unless they wore a stetson and carried a six-shooter.

As a contractor, I come up against them all the time, working on a cash basis in the blue-chip, green-belt suburbs of Britain.

The black economy is fuelled not by people being hoodwinked or forced to take these cowboys on but by market forces - the pure greed of middle England, Scotland and Wales.

I priced a small contract to repair a drive. The wearing course had broken up. Top layer, after top layer had been laid on this drive. It had holes all over it.

Each layer had cost £2,000. The last time it had broken up in less than a month. The man in the stetson had charged the customer another £1,200 for the repairs.

So the customer wanted something new, blockpaving. When I quoted £4,500, she nearly fainted. I explained that she'd already had the drive done three times - at the cost of £6,000 - and that block-paving would last a life time. But the cowboy got the work again.

In the black economy, cash is king. Most people preach that they want good, reliable firms but invariably go for the cheapest price.

John Pearson

Fast Track Groundwork Contractor

Richmond, North Yorkshire