Which? uses cookies to improve our sites and by continuing you agree to our cookies policy.

How to find an emergency trader

By Rebecca Milligan

Homes, cars and appliances are all getting smarter but breakdowns still don't stick to office hours. So what do you do if you need an emergency trader?

Whatever you’re planning this weekend, it’s unlikely to include dealing with broken boilers, blocked drains or burst pipes but things can go wrong at the most inconvenient times.

At Which? Trusted Traders, we endorse emergency plumbers, electricians, locksmiths, glaziers, roofers and fuel exchange services. Only the traders who meet the Which? Trusted Traders standards make it onto the scheme, giving you extra reassurance when you need it.

Find an emergency Which? Trusted trader in your area now.

Tips for finding a reliable emergency trader

We caught up with some of our traders who offer emergency services, to find out more about what that means for them and for you. They came up with the following advice:

1. Call around: Although you want someone in a hurry, it is best to speak to a number of traders to get the best price and availability.

2. Don’t take the first online result: companies that come up first on an internet search may well have paid to be there, which will reflect in the price they charge you. These companies can also be intermediaries, who then pass the job on to someone more local to you, plus a mark-up on the price.

3. Find someone local: a local trader will get to you faster and work out cheaper. Most traders will cover a smaller area for emergency work than for planned work, because travelling a long way cuts into their time too much. Look for a company that you have seen around locally and has a website with a local address displayed. A phone number is not enough, as these can be purchased by anyone.

4. Ask about charges. Find out what the charging structure is before you hand over any money. If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Costs will vary according to the job, the location and the time of day but your trader should be able to give you a clear indication of how that works on the phone, including what equipment, labour and time is included in the initial charge.

5. Check it’s a reputable company: emergency or not, your traders need to be qualified. Anyone dealing with gas should be suitably certified and electricians should be registered otherwise they are not insured to work on your wiring.

You may find that you have to call around, particularly if it is the middle of the night. Some 24 hour traders, may not actually operate over 24 hours. It depends on the resources they have available.

'A lot of people say they’re 24 hour service, but they’re not.' says Mark Orchard from Clayton Construction. 'To really cover 24 hours, you need someone on the end of a phone, you need a man with a van, you need to pay them, retain them and make sure they’re available. So with your overheads as a business it relates to £15,000 - £20,000 a year, so you have to generate a lot of call outs to make it worthwhile.'

If you want the reassurance of an accredited tradesperson, search for a Which? Trusted Trader in your area now.

More on this…

 

Thanks to Chris Cavanagh of Lock Around the Clock, Chris Gordon of Electricians in Reading, Kris Barry of Absolute Bristol Plumbers Ltd, Mark Orchard of Clayton Construction and Tom Presswood of Mega-Rod who all contributed to this article.

 

Here are some other articles you might find helpful