Some doorstep sellers are honest, but unfortunately there are some rogue traders who target their victims by making uninvited ‘cold calls’ and offering to provide goods or services.
Rogue traders affect the lives of Cornwall residents all year round. In the last year alone they took over £125,000 from homeowners for work that either wasn’t needed, was poorly done, or in some cases, wasn’t carried out at all.
Rogue traders offer anything from driveway cleaning, roofing repairs and new windows to investment schemes and antique valuations. Most genuine traders don’t call at your home without an appointment. There are an increasing number of rogue traders who deliberately target the more vulnerable members of the community. They attempt to extort money for little to no work. Rogue traders generally offer home improvements services
- tarmaccing or block paved driveways
These businesses often pose as local companies. They may give a false local address and telephone number.
In Trading Standards’ experience this type of trader will:
- do a poor job
- charge over the odds for the work
- ask for cash and then simply disappear
- offer to drive homeowners to the bank to withdraw cash
Others will misrepresent the condition of the house. They may intentionally damage parts of the property to convince the homeowner that extra work needs doing. Once they see that someone is prepared to pay for extra work being done they will often ‘find’ more problems. They may even inflate the original quoted price. They are usually untraceable when things go wrong and are often not contactable on their mobile phones.
Typically these traders will only work for cash. Their written contracts, if given at all, will not provide the required information about cancellation rights. By law, all traders who sign someone up to a contract at their home should be giving a 14 day cooling off period. This gives the homeowner time to change their mind and must be specified in writing.
Occasionally there are also reports of traders offering goods such as mattresses or sofas door to door. These traders can be a cause for concern. The products they sell may have been stolen and in some cases the products will not conform to the relevant fire safety standards. It is never advisable to purchase such goods and you will often not be able to trace the seller should the product be faulty.
If you have evidence of a scam operating in your area, or you are worried about a doorstep trader we would like to hear from you. Don’t confront them. Just get as much information as you can, such as:
- vehicle description and registration number,
- business name
- what they are selling or the work they are doing
- dates and times of the visit
and then email email@example.com or call 0300 1234 191.
A Doorstep Crime Information Pack and ‘No Cold Callers’ door sticker has been produced to protect Cornish residents from criminals that come knocking on their doors. The pack has been produced by ‘Devon and Cornwall Doorstep Crime Reduction Partnership’ – a partnership between Devon and Cornwall Police and the local Trading Standards Services.
The leaflet offers advice on how to deal with callers to your door, tips on how to keep safe and contact details of organisations that can help.
You can download the documents below:
- Say ‘no’ to uninvited callers
- Don’t be pressured into agreeing something on your doorstep. Get 3 written quotes from legitimate traders (A quote is binding whilst an estimate isn’t)
- Use a trader from the Cornwall Buy with Confidence Trader List
- Know exactly who you are dealing with so that you can contact them in the future if problems arise. A mobile number is not enough
- Ask your family and friends to recommend a trader
- Don’t let a trader rush you into a agreeing for work to be done because they’re offering a ’time limited’ offer
- Check to see if the trader is a member of a Trade Association. This may offer you extra help and protection should things go wrong
- If you agree to purchase goods or services over £42 as a result of an uninvited visit by a trader; by law, you should receive a written notice clearly setting out your right to cancel within 14 days. If you are not presented with this notice, the contract may not be enforceable. You should report the trader to Trading Standards via the Citizens Advice Consumer service on 0800 144 8848.
- If things do go wrong, phone Citizens Advice Consumer Service. They offer free, confidential and impartial advice. Their number is 0800 144 8848 or visit the Citizens' Advice website.
We would urge everyone in Cornwall to be vigilant and a good neighbour. If you are concerned about anybody in your neighbourhood ‘knocking’ on the door offering to carry out home maintenance work, then please make a note of:
- any names they give you
- vehicle make and model
- vehicle colour
- vehicle registration number
- any descriptions of what the trader looked like
You should contact either the police or Trading Standards on 0800 144 8848. If you feel intimidated or threatened by any doorstep seller you should shut the door and call the police emergency number 999.
Most issues can be resolved online, it's the quickest and most convenient way to get help.