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Norfolk building company bosses face jail over ‘unfair’ treatment of customers

PUBLISHED: 12:30 30 July 2014 | UPDATED: 12:32 30 July 2014

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Two building company directors have been warned they may face jail after a string of customer complaints resulted in convictions.

Trading Standards officers received more than 90 complaints about Norfolk Home Improvements between November 2011 and October 2013,

People across the county were hit by the firm, with complaints from Norwich, Lenwade, North Walsham, Sheringham and Thetford among other places.

Officers built a case against two directors - David Umney and Carl Watson - and yesterday they both admitted contravening professional diligence at Norwich Crown Court.

The pair had failed to carry out work in reasonable time, neglected to take care in work, failed to refund deposits when work was cancelled, did not resolve complaints, and offered refunds in vouchers that did not exist - and were just discounts, the court heard.

Umney, 52, of Fakenham Road, Drayton, and Watson, 50, of Twyford Lane, Foulsham, had faced further charges but pleaded not guilty to them.

Both men denied three counts of engaging in a misleading commercial practice, including stating on a sales brochure that deposits were protected when they were not, and failing to inform customers of their right to withdraw.

Umney also pleaded not guilty to a charge of stating the company was about to cease trading when it was not.

Judge Anthony Bate said the additional charges would remain on file.

The men were both bailed until sentence on Friday, August 22.

Judge Bate said: “All options, commensurate with the gravity of the offence, are open.”

He said the pair could face up to two years in prison.

Jonathan Goodman, defending, said Watson resigned as a director in October 2012.

Speaking after the case, Shaun Norris, trading standards manager, said: “This is a great outcome for the many people who Mr Umney and Mr Watson treated unfairly following a long and thorough investigation by Norfolk County Council’s Trading Standards officers.

“I am grateful to all those people who provided evidence as part of building the case that led to the guilty pleas and pleased for them that they were able to contribute to this positive result.”

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