Checkatrade scam or worth it

Checkatrade – scam or worth the money?

Checkatrade has come a long way since its humble beginning back in 1998 as a simple printed directory of local tradespeople but the question that many of us struggle to answer remains: is it worth it? Spoiler alert – it depends.

Who would have thought that an unlikely tornado hitting the sleepy, coastal town of Selsey, West Sussex, would lead to the creation of what would eventually become a multi-million-pound enterprise employing over 400 people?

No matter how implausible it may sound, that is exactly what happened and how Scout, Checkatrade’s first name, came to be. Initially devised as nothing more than a directory of local tradespeople personally vetted by Scout founder Kevin Byrne with the intention of protecting his neighbours from rogue traders following the devastation caused by the tornado, Scout quickly became a much farther-reaching endeavour.

From a printed local directory to a nation-wide website (and later app) covering over 36,000 vetted trade members, Checkatrade has continued to develop its business and grow as a brand to which customers can turn to find reliable workers. Its set-up has remained relatively simple: all you need to do is search for the trade you’re looking for, browse through the workers registered in your area and the reviews left by previous customers, and book your slot.

However, in the 23 years since it was founded, not everything has been a sea of roses for Checkatrade. Though the company guarantees a full vetting process prior to the approval of its trade members, customer complaints abound… From shoddy work to late deadlines, it seems not all works as it should with Checkatrade’s vetting procedures and cowboy traders continue to infiltrate the website and leave customers to fend for themselves.

Of course this isn’t everyone’s experience, though, and anyone with a bit of time on their hands and just the slightest bit of curiosity can find an endless number of positive reviews online from people who’ve found tradespeople through Checkatrade and were more than satisfied with the value they got for their money.

On the tradespeople’s side, though, trouble seems to crop up much more frequently.

For anyone who isn’t familiar with Checkatrade’s sign up process, suffice it to say that it’s a multi-tier paid subscription service with varying benefits – the most important of which being the number of leads each subscription plan allows for. Though the website insistently advertises a starting monthly cost of £30 (plus VAT), this is only the cost for their most basic plan which doesn’t even guarantee job leads, with prices quickly escalating as you start to explore other plan options.

The monthly cost is often what ends up leaving tradespeople bashing their head against the wall, as the customer uptake from job leads can vary drastically between months, leaving traders to pay for fees that they might not be able to afford.

However, that isn’t even the biggest problem that tradespeople have found with Checkatrade. For many who have been with the company for the better part of the last two decades, Checkatrade had been both a reliable source of income and a way to expand their businesses onto wider markets. As Tooltalk users STHelectricalengineers and Reidew406 exemplified in their scathing reviews, the company’s handling of tradespeople’s issues appears to be consistently sub-par, leaving many to decide to jump ship rather than continue their membership.

From fake reviews on tradespeople’s profiles to selling leads to external companies, many have accused Checkatrade of poor business practices, including prioritising signing new people up without any prior vetting process. For a company that states on its website it is so confident in its members’ work it’ll refund any dissatisfied customer within up “to 12 months to the value of £1000”, it just seems counterproductive to allow disreputable workers in.

All in all, it appears there is no general consensus on Checkatrade… Many people out there will swear by its services, customers and tradespeople alike, but many have also been let down by the company’s promises of a continuous stream of job leads or bad customer service experiences.

It begs the question, though: where are these differences coming from?

What does it take to succeed on Checkatrade? Is it directly proportional to how long you’ve been using their service for? Does a tradesperson need to have a pre-existent ‘database’ of sorts of customers and future reviewers of your work to make Checkatrade work for you? Or can you grow through your use of the platform?

If you’ve ever used Checkatrade, either as a customer or a tradesperson, do get in touch and tell us what your experience was like – we’d love to hear from you.

Leave a Comment
Article Categories