Bunbury Regional News

‘Wandering’ Chimney Sweep moves on with consumer cash

Chimney sweep Neil Michael Cole has found himself allegedly living up to his business name of ‘The Wandering Chimney Sweep’ after wandering off with $4,500 in customer deposits despite either not commencing or finishing works.

Mr Cole, formerly of Gidgegannup but now believed to be living in the Bunbury area, has been advertising his services on Facebook Marketplace.

Six consumers from Kukerin, Clarkson, Chittering, Moora, Wongan Hills and Wungong requested mainly fireplace refurbishments only to never see their money again.

Even more startling was that when he did start a job, the work provided was very much sub-standard according to Commissioner for Consumer Protection Lanie Chopping.

“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.

Ms Chopping noted there were ways to avoid being caught out by wandering tradesman like Mr Cole.

“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,” she said.

“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 or email consumer@commerce.wa.gov.au or call 1300 30 40 54.

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