Nearly half of tradespeople have walked away from jobs due to customers’ behaviour

  • Average value of jobs walked away from due to customer behaviour is £1,062
  • Tradespeople walk away from an average of five jobs per year due to customer ‘red flags’
  • Nearly half (49 per cent) of tradespeople say customers who claim they can get someone else to do the job for less is a red flag

Almost half of tradespeople (47 per cent) say they have walked away from a job due a customer’s behaviour or an argument, according to research1 from Direct Line business insurance. The study revealed the average value of each job walked away from was £1,062.

Four in 10 (41 per cent) tradespeople report they have had arguments with customers because of their behaviour, with the most common issue being late payment (62 per cent). It is a key issue for the industry and can significantly impact cash flow, tradespeople are owed an average £6,984 in outstanding payments2. Other reasons for arguments include customers trying to tell tradespeople how to do the job (57 per cent) and customers adding additional jobs on top of what had already been agreed (39 per cent).

The top 10 most annoying customer habits according to tradespeople


Annoying habit

Per cent


Late payment

62 per cent


Customers trying to tell you how to do your job

57 per cent


Adding additional jobs on top of what you have agreed to do

39 per cent


Customers nagging you to finish faster

39 per cent


Customers checking up on you or hovering over you while you work

36 per cent


Customer indecisiveness or changing their mind on something

33 per cent


Children hovering over you while you work

31 per cent


Not keeping pets out of the way while you work

29 per cent


Not being able to start at the agreed date

27 per cent


Customers trying to get involved or help

26 per cent

Source: Direct Line Business Insurance

With 42 per cent of Brits struggling to find a tradesperson to do work in their home,3 the survey also revealed the ‘red flags’ that cause professionals to decline some jobs altogether.  On average tradespeople turn down five jobs a year due to the ‘red flags’ they have identified.

The most common ‘red flag’ was a customer telling them that they can get someone else to do the job for less (49 per cent). This was followed closely by dictating how much a job should cost (47 per cent) or how long it should take (41 per cent), wanting to cut corners to reduce cost such as using cheap materials (45 per cent), and asking for a discount with a sob story (43 per cent).

Alison Traboulsi, Product Manager at Direct Line business insurance commented: “We’ve all had to manage challenging situations and people that have tested our patience. While tradespeople understand that often customers questions are about trying to understand a task that sits outside of their general knowledge, frequent questions and demands can make for a difficult working environment for tradespeople. It bodes well for customers to remember that the person they’ve hired, or are looking to hire, is an expert in their field. A tradesperson relies on word of mouth and a good reputation, so ultimately, they want to make sure that they do a good job, on time and at a fair price for the work they’re doing.”


Notes to Editors

1.      Survey conducted for Direct Line for Business by Opinium of 500 UK Tradespeople between 4th December 2023 – 8th December 2023

2.      Survey conducted for Direct Line for Business by Opinium of 2000 UK adults, including 161 tradespeople who either own a business or are self-employed, conducted 10th-14th February 2023.

3.      Survey conducted for Direct Line for Business by Opinium of 2000 UK adults between 5th December 2023 – 8th December 2023

For further information please contact:

Direct Line Group 

Unni Henry 

PR Manager

Email: [email protected] 

About Direct Line business insurance

Launched in 2007 Direct Line business insurance now has over half a million customer policies, providing a flexible range of insurance products for the landlord, van and small business sectors.

Direct Line business insurance policies are underwritten by U K Insurance Limited, Registered office: The Wharf, Neville Street, Leeds LS1 4AZ. Registered in England and Wales No 1179980. U K Insurance Limited is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority.

Direct Line business insurance and UK Insurance limited are both part of Direct Line Insurance Group plc.