Latest Consumer Direct figures reveal there were over 393 doorstep selling complaints in Kent and Medway. In a push to protect the vulnerable Traceyis joining forces with the OFT’s Summer Doorstep Selling campaign, empowering local residents to deal with untoward doorstep sellers.
Research conducted on behalf of the Office of Fair Trading 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.
Tracey says: “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 says: “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.”
Here are some practical tips on how to deal with doorstep sellers:
· Think twice before you buy and if you are made to feel under pressure to make a purchase, have the confidence to say no.
· Be wary of time-limited or exclusive offers that need to be signed on the spot – this can be a high pressure sales tactic.
· Double check the facts. Do you fully understand the costs and know whether it includes extras like installation, on-going serving charges or warranties?
· Always shop around to compare products and prices.
· Talk to someone you trust for a second opinion.
· If you spend more than £35 with a trader on the doorstep, you usually have seven days in which to cancel (subject to certain conditions).
· If in doubt, call the Citizens Advice consumer line on 0845 404 0506 or visit www.adviceguide.org.uk