Damp survey London - the scam

Over the last few months we have watched in fascination as a beleaguered damp industry tries to hold onto its rapidly disappearing market.  Damp surveys in london are the last bastion of this horrible, fraudulent industry.  The way that the PCA - or Property Care Association - markets itself, and members, is extreme. London, Surrey, Middlesex, the Home Counties and the South East is their biggest market.  It is the highest concentration of old, solid walled, and breathable houses in one small area of the country.  It is also one of the highest concentrations of Listed Buildings in one area. It is a captive audience.  If you are flogging damp surveys, you want to flog damp surveys in London! This is how they try to do it:

It is all about marketing and websites.  We get a potful of crooked money, and throw it at a London based marketing agency like the one owned and run by Liz Male who runs Trustmark - an pseudo Government organisation that gives pseudo credibility to the PCA. Lovely lot of people.  So we sit down in our marketing and PR agency, and start writing lots and lots of grubby, cheap websites - each one of them only has a couple of pages. They all talk about the same thing:  "we do Damp Surveys in London.  We are independent.  We do Independent Damp Surveys. We do independent specialist surveys. We offer impartial advice on rising damp, penetrating damp, dry rot, and woodworm. We have industry recognised qualifications of CSRT and CSSW. (Of course we don't actually, because they are worthless). We have lots of photos and videos of REALLY SCAREY dry rot outbreaks, lots of photos of woodworm, and woodworm beetles, longhorn beetles, powder post beetle, and lots of discussion about remedial measures needed.  We refer to equipment we use - in particular we want to make sure that everyone knows we only use resistance or 'damp meters' - but that if you want really scientific analysis we can use a calcium carbide meter, and here's lots of detail about one".  It gives you a warm fuzzy feeling that these people know what they are doing (not). 

They will also talk a lot about the need to use a "Specialist contractor (Insert the word Goon here) who is a member of the property care association and they will also try to make you aware of the need for very important (and fraudulent) insurance backed guarantee (because the same people own the insurance company and never pay out).

The last part of the chain is to have lots and lots of links to each other.  So the marketing and pr company sits down and registers websites in every conceivable name that contain the possible permutations of damp, london, and independent. We've seen things like 'damp survey london' london damp survey' independent specialist surveys' 'london damp', 'timber and dampsurveys' - you get the picture.  It's called link scamming, and google doesn't like it.

Another thing we've seen them do is to trawl the social forums.  One of their members poses as someone with a damp problem wanting advice.  Another supposedly neutral person says 'Oh - I just had that problem and Mr so and so was wonderful - he came out and gave me a completely unbiased opinion, and said there was no damp proofing needed, and all we had to have was a ventilation fan' - and HERE IS A LINK TO HIS WEBSITE.  So now the scammers have managed to plant a link into a public forum which is gold dust to google search engines.   You can just imagine what happens next: Some poor person with a real problem contacts that site thinking they are going to get the lovely man who doesn't do damp.  He comes, sucks his teeth, and promptly recommends PCA contractors to do a massive overkill of damp proofing that is completely fraudulent.  

It's very clever really, but sorry guys - you have been rumbled.

The last unpleasant link in the chain is visibility. Do they have a real address?  Never. We've followed the daisy chain of addresses, companies, and ownership - and it all leads back to a legal/accounting dead letter address in London, where according to Companies House, many hundreds of companies are registered.  These people, and their websites, have a need to hide.  They don't have a visible, honest home or office address. There are no photos of the people who apparently do the work.  If you contact them it is a click on a link. The response just says 'we will have a surveyor contact you'.  

So that's the story really.  It is exactly what we would expect from a bunch of crooks. What is perhaps a bit more surprising is that it is so obvious - so brazen.

The damp survey companies in London and the south east are starting to crumble.  As they do, they are trying to regain lost income.  One of the biggest new scams is 'condnsation control'.  Having spent years telling you that you have rising damp, and using condensation as the excuse to get out of any guarantees - they are now flogging cheap Chinese condensation control fans they buy for about £5, and sell to you for £350 plus fitting.  None of these fans are any use.  They don't operate by sensing total moisture in the air - they operate by measuring relative humidity.  To the uninitiated, that might seem ok - but its about as useless as tits on a bull.  I'll write a page about this, as its an important concept in the war against damp in old houses.  For the moment - remember - when a damp wally tries to flog you condensation control - run in the opposite direction.

Mike did a survey recently in London and found this absolute mess - some of the worst damp wally damage we've ever seen. They even injected the skirting boards! The wall was bone dry - all the mess was completely unnecessary:

Damp and Condensation
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