West Yorkshire Trading Standards warns of Summer Rogue Traders
Latest Consumer Direct figure reveal there were over 1170 doorstep selling complaints in Yorkshire and Humber. In a push to protect the vulnerable, West Yorkshire Trading Standards Service is joining forces with the Office of Fair Trading (OFT)’s Summer Doorstep Selling campaign, empowering local residents to deal with untoward doorstep sellers.
Research conducted on behalf of the OFT highlights the elderly as being particularly at risk of doorstep selling scams. One in five people over the age of 70 who were interviewed admitted to not being confident in deciding whether to employ a tradesperson and a fifth of those questioned couldn’t see through pressure sales tactics such as having to pay cash in advance or having to make a quick decision to get a good deal.
Graham Hebblethwaite, Chief Officer of West Yorkshire Trading Standards Service said: “Not all doorstep sellers are bogus, however unlawful traders can be unscrupulous and use a range of persuasive tactics to sell seemingly irresistible offers to unsuspecting and often vulnerable people in their homes. I’m urging everyone who knows or cares for a vulnerable, elderly person to make sure they are aware of their rights when it comes to suspect door step approaches. No one should feel pressured into making a rash buying decision. If in doubt always think twice and get a second opinion.”
Judith Frame, Head of Campaigns at OFT said: “Complaints about home maintenance and illegitimate doorstep sellers traditionally peak in the summer months. While it is not illegal to canvas for work door to door, rogue doorstep trading remains a serious issue for vulnerable groups, particularly the elderly who live alone. Decisions made on the doorstep can result in a great amount of distress for those who are duped out of money for substandard products or services. It is crucial to be aware of your consumer rights and share this knowledge.”
Councillor Neil Taggart, of the West Yorkshire Joint Services Committee, which oversees the work of Trading Standards said: ‘We know that the summer months are always rife with bogus trades people touting for business on the doorstep, particularly where we’ve had issues such as local flooding. Follow our advice to make sure you’re getting the deal you think you are.’
The OFT offers the following top 10 tips on how to deal with doorstep sellers:
Ten Top Tips
Buy Wisely and Safely on your Doorstep
Many people who sell things on the doorstep are legitimate traders, but unfortunately some aren’t. Rogue traders may use illegal pressure selling tactics to make people buy and they can ignore their legal rights. The Office of Fair Trading has developed ten top tips to help you buy safely and with confidence on your doorstep – and to help you say ‘no’ when you need to.
1. Don’t sign on the spot
Don’t feel pressured to agree on the spot- if you are interested in what they are selling, you can ask them to come back at another time that is more convenient for you, maybe when you have someone else with you or you’ve shopped around.
2. Check the trader’s identity
Always ask for an identity card and look up the organisation to check the salesperson’s identity is genuine. Don’t use the number on their card. Check if the trader is a member of a reputable trade body, like the Direct Selling Association, whose members should ensure their salespeople sell responsibly.
3. Be wary of special offers or warnings about your home
Don’t get taken in by sales banter or high pressure selling techniques. Don’t be hurried into a decision even if there is a discount. The discount might be on a price that is too high in the first place.
4. Always shop around for the best price
Check with other companies offering the same product first. Make sure the price and product is right for you.
5. Read the small print
Always read documents carefully before you sign them and make sure you fully understand your rights. It’s best to ask salespeople to call back so you can do this in your own time – don’t be rushed into signing before you feel ready.
6. Double check the facts
Make sure you fully understand the total costs of the transaction – including estimates, delivery and installation and the arrangements for after-sales servicing, such as the guarantees or warranties. Only agree to make a purchase once you’re entirely satisfied that the transaction is acceptable.
7. Talk to someone you trust for a second opinion
Take the time to talk to someone you trust – for example your family, a friend or carer – before you sign anything.
8. Don’t hand over a cash deposit
Avoid handing over money before work is started. A reliable trader will never ask you to do this (even if they need materials). Never agree to go with a trader to the bank to take money out.
9. Think very carefully before you agree to a trader starting any work straight away
If you agree to have any work done or goods delivered within the seven day cooling-off period, you may have to pay if you later change your mind and cancel the contract.
10. Trust your instincts
If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!
And finally … it’s OK to say no
Remember it’s your doorstep and your decision. If you feel pressured for any reason ask the person to leave.
If in doubt, visit http://www.adviceguide.org.uk or call the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 08454 04 05 06
PS 5014 Jane Franks
NPT Support Sergeant
Weetwood Police Station
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