A winter warning for consumers looking to have their fireplaces cleaned – stay away from a chimney sweep who takes your money but then wanders off without finishing or even starting the job.
Neil Michael Cole, formerly of Gidgegannup but now believed to be living in the Bunbury area and trading as The Wandering Chimney Sweep, has been advertising his services on Facebook Marketplace. On six occasions since September 2018 he has taken deposits from consumers as well as one full payment, but has failed to either commence or complete the work.
Mr Cole has recently accepted payments from six consumers totalling about $4,500 for mostly fireplace refurbishments. The consumers are from Kukerin, Clarkson, Chittering, Moora, Wongan Hills and Wungong.
Commissioner for Consumer Protection Lanie Chopping said it seems this chimney sweep doesn’t want to get his hands dirty.
“According to most of the complaints that have been lodged with us, Mr Cole disappeared in a puff of smoke after receiving the money and work was only started in two of the six cases,” Ms Chopping said.
“In one incomplete job, Mr Cole removed the fireplace for refurbishment but it was never returned and he used duct tape to cover up the hole that was left behind. His behaviour doesn’t reflect the professional work ethic that consumers expect.
“Mr Cole’s business name is appropriate because, after taking money from his customers, he wanders off, never to be seen again and the consumers never see their money again also.
“So don’t get caught out, do some online review checking and get recommendations of reputable businesses if you want your chimney cleaned or fireplace refurbished this winter. Certainly stay away from Neil Cole and The Wandering Chimney Sweep.
“Also reduce your risk by not paying too much money upfront and only pay the majority of the quoted price when the job is completed to your satisfaction.”
Anyone who has had unsatisfactory dealings with Neil Cole or The Wandering Chimney Sweep should lodge a complaint on the Consumer Protection website