Trading Standards in Aberdeenshire are urging people to stay safe in their own homes by saying a firm “NO” to cold calling doorstep traders.
Officers from Aberdeenshire Trading Standards are backing the national campaign to close the door on rogue traders and help end the heartache and financial loss that can be caused by unscrupulous cold callers, who often target the elderly and vulnerable.
As part of the Trading Standards Institute ‘Cold Calling – Don’t Buy It’ campaign householders are encouraged to collect or ask for a free no cold calling ‘super sign’ from Trading Standards or download it at www.tradingstandards.gov.uk.
The sign tells cold calling doorstep traders to go away – those who don’t are committing a criminal offence and consumers should report them to the police or trading standards.
More than 10,000 complaints are made nationally about cold calling doorstep traders every year, but this is likely to only be the tip of the iceberg as many victims are often too embarrassed or frightened to report it.
Aberdeenshire Trading Standards regularly receive complaints against doorstep callers and itinerant tradesmen. A quick response to one complaint saved three families in Banchory a total of £12,000.
Another itinerant trader carrying out driveway work targeted a family in a remote area near Fraserburgh. After the work was done the trader significantly increased the price to £1500 and made threats unless payment was made. Intervention from Trading Standards identified the work was of poor quality and prevented the trader from receiving further payments. Although consumers entering in to contracts for over £35 at their home will have a 7 day cooling off period itinerant traders often do not inform the consumer of this which would be a criminal offence and makes the contract unenforceable.
Chair of Aberdeenshire Council’s Infrastructure Services Committee Councillor Peter Argyle said “I would recommend that residents never enter in to contracts on the doorstep as there is often no guarantee of the quality of workmanship, the traders identity can be unknown and the price can often increase from what was agreed.
“Take your time to make the right decision and avoid buying sevices on the doorstep.”
Trading Standards advise that if you need work doing at home you should employ reputable local traders, get two or three different quotes - which will also ensure the work actually needs doing - check traders are based where they say they are and are actually members of trade associations if they display any logos.
Trading Standards Institute’s chief executive Ron Gainsford said: “Every day trading standards officers up and down the country are dealing with cold callers targeting vulnerable consumers for expensive, unnecessary and badly done home maintenance work.
“Our message is clear: we think that there is only one way consumers can really stay safe from rogues in their own homes, and that is by saying ‘no’ to cold calling doorstep traders.
“With our Cold Calling – Don’t Buy It campaign we want to raise awareness amongst particularly the more vulnerable consumers that cold callers could be anyone and that they should never be dealt with.”
Any consumer wishing to make a complaint against a doorstep trader or requires further advice should contact the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 08454 040506.