Showing rogue traders the door

TACKLING doorstep sellers is top of the agenda in Suffolk during this year’s National Consumer Week (12 – 18 November).

Suffolk Trading Standards officers are supporting the national campaign in an attempt to empower the most vulnerable consumers to say no to cold calling doorstep traders and stay safe in their homes.

Trading Standards launched a county-wide crackdown on rogue traders and cold callers earlier this year to examine the huge range of scams that Suffolk people are continually exposed to, with doorstep sales as a main feature.

Along with trained and experienced Trading Standards officers, a new cohort of ‘Consumer Champions’ have been offering invaluable advice and guidance to help local communities.

Consumer Champions are volunteers that act as a bridge between Trading Standards and the local community. They make it easier for people to access information about consumer protection and to build resilience against rogue traders and scams.

Councillor Colin Spence, Suffolk County Council’s cabinet member for public protection said; “A charismatic salesperson can be intimidating and it is easy to fall for their charms. It is so important that we do all we can to educate and empower Suffolk people to identify the early warning signs and feel they have the confidence to say ‘no’ to deceitful doorstep sellers.”

“I’m urging everyone who knows or cares for a vulnerable or elderly person to make sure they are aware of their rights when it comes to suspect door step approaches and to carefully research salespeople before inviting them into their home.

“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 said; “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.”

Suffolk Trading Standards are providing the following top 10 tips on how to deal with doorstep sellers:

  1. Never sign on the spot
  2. Check the trader’s identity. Always ask for an identity card and look up the organisation to check the salesperson’s identity is genuine
  3. Be wary of special offers or warnings about your home
  4. Always shop around for the best price
  5. Read the small print. Always read documents carefully before you sign them and make sure you fully understand your rights
  6. Double check the facts. Make sure you fully understand the total costs of the transaction –including estimates, delivery and installation and the arrangements for after-sales servicing
  7. Talk to someone you trust for a second opinion
  8. Don’t hand over a cash deposit. Avoid handing over money before work is started. A reliable trader will never ask you to do this
  9. Think very carefully before you agree to a trader starting any work straight away. If you agree to have any work done or goods delivered within the seven day cooling-off period, you may have to pay if you later change your mind and cancel the contract
  10. Trust your instincts. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is

‘No Cold Calling Zones’ feature across Suffolk in a bid to protect vulnerable members of the community from rogue traders and distraction burglaries.

The zones are designed to discourage unscrupulous traders and empower vulnerable consumers to say ‘no’ to uninvited doorstep sellers. They are marked with signs in the street explaining that the area is a ‘No Cold Calling Zone’ with residents displaying stickers in their windows to show they do not wish people to call at their door.

A full list of where the zones are can be found on the Trading Standards website

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

About suffolktradingstandards
Suffolk Trading Standards is working towards creating and fair and safe trading environment. By creating empowered consumers, that are armed with the knowledge to stop 'rogue traders'.

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