With the summer months approaching,Suffolkresidents may be more susceptible to unsolicited approaches about home repairs and gardening work.
As part of the Office of Fair Trading’s (OFT) national campaign to warn people about rogue doorstep traders, Suffolk Trading Standards and Suffolk Police are urging people to be cautious and remember it is your doorstep, your decision and not to accept building and maintenance repair offers from cold callers.
Past incidents have shown that bogus doorstep traders often use a range of persuasive and emotional tactics to secure a fast sale and con people out of their money, for example you are made to feel that there is a great urgency in the offer and that if you don’t sign up now, you will miss out. Last year Suffolk Trading Standards successfully prosecuted a rogue trader who had overcharged an 84-year old lady £18,500 for work he had carried out at her Felixstowe home. Fortunately, due to Trading Standards’ intervention, the trader repaid the £18,500 but that’s not guaranteed to happen every time.
David Kanefrom Suffolk Police said “We want to support people inSuffolkto become more aware of the risks of doorstep sellers and the tricks they use to get you to agree to house repairs. We want people to have the courage to refuse making on the spot decisions about buying costly home repairs that they may not need. Suffolk Constabulary is actively working with partner agencies to tackle bogus callers and we need your help. Remember the victims of these crimes are mainly the elderly and vulnerable. Have you talked about home security with your parents, neighbours or anyone you know who could be vulnerable to this despicable crime? If not, now is the time to do it.”
Key points to cover:
- Making sure there is a door chain fitted and used
- Make sure the back door is locked before going to the front door
- Ensure doors and windows are locked even if the person is only popping out for a minute
- Checking the identification of people calling at the front door
- Not to keep large amounts of money at home
- If there is any doubt or concerns about a caller at the door then call the police on 999.
Tony Doorly, Senior Trading Standards Officer said “Whilst it is not usually illegal for handymen to canvass for work in this manner,there are very specific legal requirements regarding a homeowner’s right to cancel a contract that anyone doing this must follow. Rogue doorstep trading continues to be an ongoing problem in the UK and decisions made on the doorstep may result in you agreeing to work or a service that isn’t necessary, of a poor standard, much more expensive than quoted or not done at all – leaving you out of pocket and often in need of more expense to set the problem right. Our campaign wants to highlight this issue and ensure that homeowners take the time to consider their decisions carefully, with the support of family and friends.”
Councillor Colin Spence, Suffolk County Council’s Portfolio Holder for Public Protection said “I would encourage everyone, especially elderly or vulnerable people to be aware of cold calling, and to not buy or commit to anything based on a cold call.”
According to advice service Consumer Direct, over 5,000 complaints were received last year about uninvited home maintenance traders, with the most common five complaints being about roofing, tarmacing and insulation. The Office of Fair Trading’s doorstep selling campaign aims to remind people to be cautious of doorstep sellers’ pitches and avoid making snap decisions.
For advice on doorstep selling, please contact Consumer Direct on 08454 040 506 or visit www.direct.gov.uk