Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth? Avoid buying a pig in a poke.

In days gone by, if you were buying something good practice was based on expressions like not looking a gift horse in the mouth or taking care to avoid buying a pig in a poke.  Presumably dissatisfaction with goods or services provided has been around since stone age cave dwellers traded flint and obsidian (cooled volcanic lava which like flint could be fashioned to produce sharp blades and arrow heads)

Are these expressions of any use to you today if you’re looking to get your loft insulated or double glazing fitted?  Possibly, although there are other ways of finding a trader who will do a good job.  The Trading Standards Institute (TSI) has recently set up a Consumer Codes Approval Scheme.  Traders displaying the TSI approved code logo will have undergone a two-stage approval process which ensures that the trader has satisfied the TSI that it will:

  • provide clear information, before any contract is signed about the services provided
  • ensure that any prepayments are protected
  • be aware of  how to deal with consumers in their own home
  • monitor its own performance
  • independent dispute resolution schemes


You can search for installers who are endorsed under the scheme at

Other sources of information relating to approved traders include

–       Trustmark.  A government endorsed quality mark where you can search for everything from a solar panel installer to a tree consultant which you can find on

–        Motorcodes.  Provides a full directory of recommended UK garages providing car servicing, car repairs, MOTs, tyres, exhausts and more.  You can find UK Garages approved by the Motor Industry Code of Practice for Service and Repair at  For a basic UK garage search just enter your town or postcode and click search.

–       Green Deal.  If you’re looking for energy saving improvements to your home, you can find a certified installer through the Green Deal, a scheme allowing you to make energy efficiency improvements to your home without paying upfront.  For more information visit .

The Citizens Advice Adviceguide web site – can direct you to schemes and professional associations which can help you find reputable traders or where to find a qualified electrician or gas engineer.

All this information will help you to find a reliable trader.  While it will assist you with your choice, things can go wrong even when you choose a trader endorsed by one of the schemes referred to above.  So, take care to ensure that the service or product you are buying is clearly defined and is from a provider who can demonstrate a past record of having done so before for satisfied customers.  Which brings us back to not buying a pig in a poke.

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