Stay safe and say NO to cold calling doorstep traders, urges Trading Standards
The Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment’s Trading Standards Service (TSS) is using National Consumer Week to urge consumers to say NO when doorstep traders come knocking.
Trading Standards’ strongest message yet against cold calling doorstep traders comes as hundreds of consumers’ lives continue to be blighted by doorstep crime every year.
Trading standards officers throughout Northern Ireland are faced daily with the criminal offences, financial hardship, health impact and emotional fallout caused by cold calling doorstep traders who carry out unnecessary home maintenance work at grossly inflated prices – adding insult to injury by doing the work badly – or use cold calling as a cover for distraction burglary
David Livingstone, Head of the Trading Standards Service, said: “We think there is only one way consumers can really stay safe from rogues in their own homes, and that is by saying ‘no’ to cold calling doorstep traders –particularly those offering home maintenance services such as roofing, guttering, gardening and work on the driveway.
“Consumers who need work carried out on their house should never take the word of a cold caller for it and should take their time, do their research and shop around for the best price before agreeing to a workman starting a job.
“With the Trading Standards ‘Cold Calling – Don’t Buy It’ campaign we want to raise awareness amongst particularly the more vulnerable consumers that they have every right to reject cold calling on their own doorstep – their home is their castle.
Livingstone continued, “To help them do this we are rolling out the no cold calling ‘super sign’ – we are urging anyone who does not want unwelcome knocks on their door to download one from our website http://www.consumerline.org and display it clearly by the front door.
“It’s much easier to delete unwanted emails and hang-up on telesales cold callers than it is to deal with unwanted tradesmen on your doorstep. The no cold calling ‘super sign’ helps consumers understand their rights when dealing with unwanted cold callers. If you don’t want people to knock, stick a TSS-approved ‘no cold callers’ sign up.”
Last year, 200 complaints were made to Consumerline, the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment’s consumer advice helpline, about uninvited doorstep selling. This figure is likely to be only the tip of the iceberg as many cases will go unreported.
Some victims of doorstep crime have told trading standards officers they feel they lack the confidence to deal with pushy cold calling salespeople. Criminals know this and also understand that elderly victims may not make the best witnesses.
In the last year Trading Standards in Northern Ireland have dealt with complaints about:
Roofing – the elderly are often targeted by rogue cold callers who have spotted ‘missing’ tiles or slates from a roof. The roofer says he can do the job quickly – for cash. In many cases, roofers quote extortionate prices, take the money and scarper.
Tarmacing – Rogue traders offer to resurface your drive, claiming to have extra tarmac from another job. They can do it there and then – for cash. The tarmac runs out, they go for more and that’s the last you see of them.
Dodgy Flyers – Dropped through consumers’ homes, they appear with fake business names, addresses, endorsements from ‘satisfied’ customers, pictures of work completed by the business as well as falsely claiming to be a member of a trader association.
Unfortunately, consumers see flyers as adding an air of legitimacy to a business, equating a nice, glossy brochure or flyer to a professional business. In many instances, this is not always the case.
Consumers who need guidance on their consumer rights or want to report a dodgy cold caller to trading standards should call Consumerline on 0300 123 62 62 or log onto www.consumerline.org – anyone feeling threatened should call the police on 999.
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