Nottinghamshire residents are being encouraged to say no to doorstep salespeople as part of a National Consumer Week campaign this week (w/c Monday 12 November).
The County Council’s Trading Standards Team has received 159 complaints about doorstep sales people from local residents over the last 12 months.
In a push to protect the vulnerable the Council is joining forces with the OFT’s Doorstep Selling campaign, empowering local residents to deal with untoward doorstep sellers, including those who are invited into the home after a cold call sales approach, and specifically traders offering mobility aids and home insulation products and services.
Research conducted on behalf of the Office of Fair Trading highlights the elderly as being at risk of doorstep selling scams they are also likely to be susceptible to mobility aid traders and targeted by home insulation sellers.
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.
Elizabeth Powell from Hayton near Retford had a negative experience with a doorstep trader offering to carry out some work on her driveway which left her £4,600 out of pocket.
She said: “He seemed so trustworthy as he was softly spoken, had an official looking leaflet and I had seen boards around my village with his company’s name on.
“He initially quoted me £3,000 for widening my driveway and laying a sealant to stop weeds for ten years but I ended up paying out £4,600 for a shoddy, unfinished job.
“The drive was not laid on proper foundations so was left unsafe and I have had to pay another £2,000 to rectify his work.
“I feel foolish that I allowed him to take advantage of me and I would never buy anything from a doorstep salesman again and I would others to do the same.”
Councillor Mick Murphy, Chairman of Nottinghamshire County Council’s Community Safety Committee, said: “As winter takes hold ice and snow can cause maintenance issues with roofs and driveways so people may be tempted to use a doorstep trader offering their services.
“Our advice with doorstep callers is to say no and not be pressurised by their persuasive sales patter.
“We advise residents to seek a trader through recommendation from friend or family member or through an approved trader scheme such as the Council’s Buy with Confidence scheme.”
Judith Frame, Head of Campaigns at OFT says: “While it is not illegal to canvas for work door to door, rogue doorstep trading, both invited and uninvited, 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.”
For more information contact visit www.adviceguide.org.uk or call the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 08454 04 05 06
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 08454 04 05 06.