Irish conmen target Clarence Valley business
IT SEEMED like a fantastic deal.
When a group of men, supposedly working with Clarence Valley Council and operating under the name Highway Resurfacing, approached Maclean Discount Pharmacy with an offer of 'discounted asphalt' left over from a job they'd just worked with the council, it seemed like a good opportunity to give their tired carpark an upgrade.
But it's a decision they are still regretting as gravel is lifted from the ground by cars and walked through their shop.
A pharmacy director, who did not want to be named, said he was away on holiday when it happened and dealt with the men, who had Irish accents, over the phone.
"They (said) they were doing the road in River St outside our pharmacy. They said 'normally it's $60 a square metre but we can do it for $30'."
Despite feeling the offer may be a little dodgy with a private number and the man on the phone unable to provide a number to call them back on, the partners decided to accept the job, knowing they'd have to get the resurfacing done anyway.
But it wasn't until the job was done that things really turned sour. "The man came into the pharmacy and he wanted payment from my (employees) right there and then," the director said. "He tried to overstate the size of the carpark, saying it was 20m by 15m."
The director told his staff to measure the carpark and prove him wrong, which eventually brought the cost of the job to $7000, down from $17,000.
"Now the carpark is basically a mess," he said. "There is hardly any tar down ... it's driving away with people's tyres."
But Maclean Discount Pharmacy was not the only business impacted, with thousands of dollars worth of gravel taken from Maclean Landscape and Building Supplies.
"I heard they were also doing the same thing on Woodford Island, pressuring some people into getting their driveways done," he said.
"We've tried to call them back but their phones don't work, you can't get onto them.
"They're basically impersonating council workers, following them around and going to local businesses and pretending they are from council."
The pharmacy director said they were very pushy, especially when it came time to pay.
"(The man) actually pressured (my business partner) to go into the office and hung over his shoulder while he transferred money right then and there."
Community member and customer Sheree Turner alerted the council to the men posing as council contractors after trying to help the pharmacy with her road sweeping business.
"We had a look to see if we could clean it up for them. It's a terrible mess but there is nothing we can do," she said.
"If we touch it, it will destroy the sweeper. The tar has been bleeding, the coverage is not very good and the consistency of the mixture is very poor."
Ms Turner spoke to a sealing crew about the job, who said this was a regular scam that occurred all over the country.
"They target different areas when the resealing programs happen in the warmer months, usually October through to February or March," she said.
Stop travelling conmen
Wearing a fluoro jacket and a hard hat doesn't mean the man who knocks on your door has the right skills to repair a driveway or fence, or paint a roof. These people are mobile, may have an Irish accent and are very pushy salespeople.
If you have been approached by them, contact the 'Stop Travelling ConMen' campaign on Facebook or by phoning 1300 133 408.