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Beware of summer doorstep traders

19 July 2012
A salesman cold calling an elderly lady at her home
Nottinghamshire residents are being warned not to buy from doorstep traders over the summer period following 201 complaints received by the County Council’s Trading Standards team in the last 12 months.

Summer Doorstep Selling campaign

In a push to protect the vulnerable the Council is joining forces with the Office of Fair Trading’s (OFT) Summer Doorstep Selling campaign, empowering local residents to deal with untoward doorstep sellers.

Elderly at risk

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 could not 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.

Complaints

The Council’s Trading Standards team is currently dealing with 10 complaints involving a doorstep trader who has been carrying out poor quality building works mainly in the Ashfield area.

The trader tends to ask for cash in hand with only a verbal agreement, which makes it difficult to prove that the consumer has been ripped off. He also encourages people to have other jobs carried out around their homes and is threatening when people complain about the quality of his work.

One Ashfield resident who used the company and wishes to remain anonymous said: “They laid my driveway and I thought I was dealing with professionals as their vehicles were sign written, they had proper flyers printed up with a local address and even had a tick list on a worksheet.

“Although he claimed that I wouldn’t have to pay till I was completely satisfied I was verbally bullied into making payments shortly after he started the work. I ended up paying over £3,000 when the work was nowhere near complete.

“I have since had an expert tell me that the materials they used were wrong and there are no real foundations to the drive.

"I have been really badly affected by these people, I’ve lost money and have been really worried."

Councillor Mick Murphy, Chairman of Nottinghamshire County Council’s Community Safety Committee, said: “Our advice on doorstep traders is simple – do not buy from them and don’t be afraid to say no. Many doorstep 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.

Get everything in writing

“Casual cash payments is a particular problem we have with rogue traders as the lack of written evidence makes it very difficult to prove wrong doings, so we urge people to get everything in writing before paying for work around your home.”

For more advice or information visit www.adviceguide.org.uk or call the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on tel: 08454 04 05 06.

Buy with Confidence

The Council’s Buy with Confidence directory has local 370 traders which have been vetted and approved by local Trading Standards officers. For more information visit www.buywithconfidence.gov.uk or phone Citizen’s Advice consumer service on tel: 08454 04 05 06.
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