They may adopt a variety of methods in order to gain entry to your home, including:
- Bogus gas, electricity, water and council officials
- Builders, odd job men and gardeners
- People claiming there is an emergency of some sort
If you suspect that a caller is bogus or is intent on burglary, ring West Mercia Police on 0300 333 3000, or in an emergency dial 999.
Shropshire Home Services
Shropshire Home Services can advise on a security equipment scheme for private sector households, older or vulnerable people. You can contact them on 01743 458 347 (Handyperson scheme) or 01743 344 632 (private sector households).
Remember that sales people are generally trained to persuade. Sales people can use various tactics to get their foot in the door, such as:
- "I noticed that your guttering is loose"
- "Congratulations - you have won a prize in our draw"
- "I am conducting a survey on home security"
- "Our special prices are only available if you sign today"
If you are at all suspicious about a caller, lock your doors and call the police.
- Display a door notice which says "No Cold Callers". (A notice is available below to print off)
- Fit a security door bar or chain to your door and make sure you use it when people call.
- If in doubt about a caller's identity don't let them in.
- Do not invite sales people into your home unless you have asked them to visit.
- Never sign a contract until you have shopped around first.
- Take advice from family and friends and other traders to check that the job really needs doing.
- Don't be pushed into making a snap decision to spend money you cannot afford.
- A reputable trader will always give you time to make up your mind.
Examples of what can go wrong
Trading Standards hear of various instances where sellers have taken advantage of those living alone or who are vulnerable:
- The double glazing salesman who advises a lady in her 70s that she is signing a quotation, when it is in fact a contract.
- An elderly lady is advised that her guttering needs replacing. After paying an excessive amount of money for the job, she then finds that she cannot open her bedroom windows.
- Sales people who exaggerate the risk of burglary or attack to sell security alarms.
- An elderly man is persuaded to have his roof cleaned, and then advised that tiles need replacing and the chimney needs repointing. He agrees to and pays a substantial amount of money for the work, and then finds out that the workmanship is very shoddy and has to pay another trader to do the work again.
If you are subjected to pressure sales tactics seek advice quickly - call Consumer Advice Helpline on 08454 040506 or in an emergency dial 999.
The law - doorstep sales
- If the goods or services cost more than £35 and the sale is as a result of a seller selling at your door, a friend's door or at your place of work, you have a seven day cooling off period. This means you have the right to cancel the contract within seven days. The cooling off period still applies even if the seller rang you first or sent someone round to ask if he or she could visit you.
- The seller must give you written details of your right to cancel (there are a few exceptions to this rule). Failure to do this is a criminal offence. You should report this matter to your Trading Standards Service.
- If you cancel the contract within the cooling off period, you will normally be entitled to claim back any money that you have paid.
- There are some exceptions to this rule, e.g. if some work has been carried out or you have received perishable goods.
- If a Consumer Credit Agreement is signed at home, the cooling off period is five days, and runs from the date you receive a copy through the post.