After local police recently received lots of reports about doorstep cold calling, Milton Keynes Trading Standards have produced a list of advice in dealing with the issue.
Each year, Thames Valley Police receive many complaints from residents who have been conned on their own doorsteps by rogue traders. These cons can involve many thousands of pounds and are often on the most vulnerable residents.
Milton Keynes Trading Standards have officers working to beat doorstep crime and to help support residents of Milton Keynes.
Their aim is to disrupt the activities of these criminals and in some cases, they work with police and make arrests. The aim is to keep criminals away by sending out a clear message that they are ready to act and use legal powers to protect local residents.
The advice issued by Milton Keynes Trading Standards is as follows:
If you pay or agree to pay over £42 for any services or goods that are sold to you in your home, then. You have 14 days to cancel the agreement. If you cancel, any monies that you have paid should be returned to you.
The trader must give you a written notice of your cancellation rights when you agree the contract. If the trader doesn't provide you with this information, they commit a criminal offence. If you agree a contract in your own home and you do not receive a written notice, please consider walking away immediately. This protection applies even when you invite a trader to your home.
Although doorstep calling is not illegal, the law states that a trader who ignores a resident's request to leave and not return commits a criminal offence. You can show you do not want to receive visits from cold calling doorstep traders by displaying a sticker.
Any trader that puts you under pressure by suggesting you have to make a decision there and then, or that the "special price" is only available for a limited period in order to make you sign up, may be committing a criminal offence.
Doorstep traders are trained in sales techniques and they can be very persuasive. Be very wary of signing anything, as you may give up your rights to cancel.
A legitimate trader will be reluctant to take you to the bank to get his money. Ask if you can transfer his payment electronically or better still, pay by credit card. If you pay by credit card, your credit card company may be required to help you if something goes wrong later and you cannot get the trader to help you.
An estimate can normally increase or decrease by 10%, while a quote is binding. If the trader starts to increase your price for no logical reason or without your agreement, you may be dealing with a rogue trader so seek advice if this happens. Do not hand over any additional payment until you understand and agree what that payment is for.
If you receive a flyer through the door, do some research before you commit to work with that trader. Do you have an address for the trader? If not, how will you pursue them if you need to sue them later (through the courts)? If you only have a mobile phone number, how will you contact the trader if it is a burner phone, which he throws away?
If you ever feel uncomfortable or suspect that something may not be right, Milton Keynes Trading Standards advice is to always say "No thank you - please leave" and then immediately close the door. If the trader won't go away, tell them that you will call Trading Standards.
If you feel you are being pressurised by the person you should call the Police on 101, if you are being threatened or in danger, you should always call 999 in an emergency.
If you would like more information about your rights please call Citizens Advice consumer service on 0808 223 1133 or Milton Keynes Trading Standards on 01908 254220.