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No cold-calling at my home

What are the problems with doorstep callers?

Unscrupulous traders often target elderly, isolated householders, generally living alone, and engage them in conversation with the following pattern:

  • They will normally cold-call offering to carry out work for the householder at low prices and will often start work without permission, on the basis that they had asked for a quote.

  • Once work has begun, the price goes up rapidly and extra work is claimed to be required in order to complete.

  • Traders may be verbally aggressive to pressure householder into paying or agreeing to work, but tend not to step over the line as they do not want the Police to be involved.

  • They may use confusion tactics over quotes and pricing in order to make householders doubt what they thought they had agreed. Mostly nothing committed to writing. They never give out a notice of cancellation rights. (Any such contract is totally unenforceable if a notice of cancellation rights has not been given, and the trader has actually committed criminal offence.)

  • They will often escort householders to the bank to make cash withdrawals.

Types of work often offered in this way:

  • driveways;
  • roofing and guttering work;
  • gardening;
  • pressure washing; and
  • house maintenance.

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What can I do to avoid being caught?

Always say "no" to doorstep callers.

  • Keep your front and back doors locked at all times.

  • If someone comes to your door, observe this code:
    • Stop: Are you expecting anybody? Do they have an appointment?
    • Chain: Secure the door bar or chain before opening the door.
    • Check: Ask for and double check the caller's ID.

  • If they offer to do work on your property say "no thanks" and shut the door.

  • Do not keep large sums of money at home.

We want you to say "no" to doorstep callers because:

  • they may pressurise or intimidate you to let them do work;
  • you may not really need the work done;
  • they may lie about the real cost of the work;
  • you may not get what you pay for;
  • you could end up paying more than you expected;
  • they may lie about their name, address and phone number.

What are we doing about it?

Trading Standards services in the South East have officers on stand-by to attend 'real time' incidents relating to cold-calling traders seeking to carry out work for 'vulnerable' householders.

The Rapid Action Teams (RAT) have two main aims:

  • Protection - With the householder's agreement, Trading Standards Officers will attend and attempt to disrupt the activities of the trader and ensure that they leave the premises with no payment (or only an amount that householder wishes to pay).

  • Evidence - Whilst trying to achieve this, Trading Standards Officers will also be looking for evidence of any criminal offences under The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008.

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How to report an incident

If a doorstep caller is at your home now, contact Citizens Advice Consumer Service immediately on 08454 04 05 06.

If a doorstep caller has contacted you recently you can either phone Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 08454 04 05 06 or complete our online incident report form.

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