A CAMPAIGN to tackle rogue traders has been launched by trading standards chiefs.
The move comes after watchdog body Consumer Direct reported more than 1,170 doorstep selling complaints in Yorkshire during 2011.
Now West Yorkshire Trading Standards Service has joined forces with the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) to run the Summer Doorstep Selling campaign to help residents deal with untoward doorstep sellers.
OFT figures show that the elderly are most at risk of doorstep selling scams. One in five people over the age of 70 who were interviewed admitted to not being confident in deciding whether to employ a trades person.
A fifth of those questioned couldn’t see through pressure sales tactics such as having to pay cash in advance or having to make a quick decision to get a good deal.
Graham Hebblethwaite, chief officer of West Yorkshire Trading Standards Service, said: “Not all doorstep sellers are bogus. However, unlawful traders can be unscrupulous and use a range of persuasive tactics to sell seemingly irresistible offers to unsuspecting and often vulnerable people in their homes.
“I’m urging everyone who knows or cares for a vulnerable, elderly person to make sure they are aware of their rights when it comes to suspect doorstep approaches.
“No-one should feel pressured into making a rash buying decision. If in doubt always think twice and get a second opinion.”
OFT head of campaigns Judith Frame said: “Complaints about home maintenance and illegitimate doorstep sellers traditionally peak in the summer months.
“While it is not illegal to canvas for work door to door, rogue doorstep trading 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.”
Kirklees councillor Andrew Pinnock, a member of West Yorkshire Trading Standards Committee, said: “We know that the summer months are always rife with bogus trades people touting for business on the doorstep – particularly where we’ve had issues such as local flooding.
“Follow our advice to make sure you’re getting the deal you think you are.”
Don’t feel pressured to agree on the spot. If you are interested in what they are selling you can ask them to come back at a time that is more convenient for you, maybe when you have someone else with you or you’ve shopped around.
Always ask for an identity card and look up the organisation to check the salesperson’s identity is genuine. Don’t use the number on their card. Check if the trader is a member of a reputable trade organisation.
Be wary of special offers or warnings about your home. Don’t get taken in by sales banter or high pressure selling techniques. Don’t be hurried into a decision, even if there is a discount.
Read the small print – Always read documents carefully before you sign them and make sure you fully understand your rights.
Take the time to talk to your family, a friend or carer before you sign anything
Go to www.adviceguide.org.uk or call the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 08454 040506.