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Caithness News Bulletins November 2003
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COMBATING BOGUS CALLERS
The growing trend of ‘bogus callers’ visiting vulnerable consumers in the Highland area is causing concern to Trading Standards’ officers of The Highland Council.
And they will make this the focus of their efforts to mark National Consumer Week, which runs from Monday 10 November, when Community Safety is the theme.
Trading Standards officers will be providing consumers with help and advice so they can make the right choices when buying goods and services at home or when approached on the doorstep.
Nigel MacKenzie, Head of Trading Standards, said: "It is particularly distressing to hear that old and vulnerable people in our society are being preyed upon by rogue traders. It has become apparent that some consumers have been repeat victims of cowboy traders who feel that they can pressurise people into paying for shoddy work on home improvements such as driveways, roofing repairs and building work. Full details of the extent of the problem do not always reach us and when they do it is all often too late for us to act."
Mr MacKenzie added that with the help of Paul Lee, Inverness Manager of ‘Age Concern’(Scotland), the Council recently carried out a ‘survey’ throughout the Highlands which focused on two areas of concern:
The Council has therefore decided to target this ‘vulnerable consumer’ group during Consumer Week. Throughout this week consumers will be able to visit their local library and ask for a free leaflet called ‘Doorstep Selling – Know Where You Stand’. Consumers can also contact our ‘Consumer Advice Line’ on 0845/600/4222 for further information about ‘doorstep buying rights’.
Consumer Advice Line is available Monday to Friday, between the hours of 9.00 am to 5.00 pm or the public can write to Trading Standards Unit, 38 Harbour Road, Inverness. All advice is free and confidential.
To save you a trip to the library here is the leaflet -
Doorstep Selling Know Where You Stand
Most legitimate market researchers carry an identity card, which you can ask to see. If you're in any doubt, call the the Market Research Society free on 0500 396999. And if someone says they work for a charity, for the Council or for the social services, they should be able to show you proof.
Remember, doorstep sellers are trained to get people to buy. They can be extremely persuasive. Once you have let a doorstep seller into your home, they will be expecting a sale - and they won't give up easily.
it happen to you?
"It didn't matter how many times I refused to sign the contract, the salesman just wouldn't go. In the end I gave in because I was exhausted and it was the only way to get him out of my home. I would advise anyone not to sign, and always to get alternative quotes."
Salesmen persuaded a Lancashire woman to sign a contract for a £3,000 burglar alarm after telling her that her dogs could be blinded or even poisoned by intruders. She later cancelled the contract when she realised the company had misled her.
"They scared me into buying an alarm by making me feel unsafe in my own home . Thank goodness I checked up on them."
A stranger knocked on the door of an 87 year old Hampshire man and told him his chimney looked dangerous, offering to give a price for the work he said was needed.....
"I knew he was talking rubbish because I used to work in the building trade and I know my bungalow is well maintained. I told him, "You may frighten some people but you don't frighten me." I run the local Neighbourhood Watch scheme and often hear about conmen like this."
Two pensioners from Haverhill, Suffolk received a phone call saying that they had won a free holiday. When a representative of the company called at their house, he persuaded the couple to buy a vacuum cleaner for £1,600. They later got their money back after complaining to their local trading standards officer.....
"We didn't need or want a vacuum cleaner but he was so persuasive we didn't know what to do. The whole experience has made us very wary of doorstep sales. Now we simply say "no thanks" and shut the door."
Cowboy builders persuaded a Yorkshire pensioner to part with £300 for home repairs, £100 more than the price he thought he had verbally agreed with them....
"I felt intimidated into giving them the money. I wrote asking for a refund but the letter was returned with "address unknown" stamped on it, so it's clear they were a bogus firm."
A 79-year-old Sunderland man parted with £665 after a doorstep salesmen persuaded him to have a small patio built for a total fee of £1,300. They demanded half the money up front, and even drove him to his bank so he could withdraw the money. His son has tried unsuccessfully to cancel the contract and retrieve his father's money...
"My father gets confused sometimes and didn't realise he was being massively overcharged for a job I could do for £500."
and don'ts, and where to get help with doorstep sellers.
to get help
Know your rights
However, if something is
wrong with the goods, you may have other rights against the seller.