Ipswich victim of alarm salesmen's aggressive tactics speaks out
PUBLISHED: 09:34 01 June 2016 | UPDATED: 12:36 01 June 2016
Sarah Lucy brown
An Ipswich mother has recalled the moment she was "bamboozled" by salesmen who today owe the court and their victims thousands.
Clare Bridgwater said spent almost £1,300 on a burglar alarm following a home call by Security Hub Home Zone’s Barry Bradshaw.
The 42-year-old employee and the firm’s director, Kevin Powell, 35, used aggressive sales tactics on people like Mrs Bridgwater, who was locked into a five-year contract just 15 minutes before an engineer turned up to fit the alarm.
It followed a ‘cold call’ claiming she was in line to receive a free system – but she was instead given a ‘discount code’, which was offered to all potential victims but had no effect on the price.
“I was visited the next day and told they wanted the whole five-year cost,” she said. “It obviously wasn’t free.
“When I said there was only so much in my bank account, I was asked what I could afford. I was bamboozled into it.”
Mrs Bridgwater, who lives in her late parents’ former home, said she was told the existing alarm was “old-fashioned” and needed replacing.
Soon after signing the contract, the mother-of-two answered the door to an engineer.
“It’s as though he’d been waiting down the road,” she said. “There was no cooling-off period.”
Other victims were also mis-sold systems and pressured into signing installation contracts.
Bradshaw and Powell received suspended jail terms at Ipswich Crown Court after being charged under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations.
Powell received eight months suspended for two years, 160 hours of unpaid work and a £4,500 victim compensation bill.
His suspended sentence from a previous conviction in Cambridgeshire will be activated if he breaches his current suspended sentence.
Bradshaw received eight weeks suspended for 12 months, 80 hours of unpaid work, and was ordered to pay costs of £2,000.
Sarah Stamp, Suffolk County Council’s head of communities, said: “By rushing potential customers to purchase an alarm, Mr Powell and Mr Bradshaw did not give the victims time to make an informed decision, causing them to potentially make a decision they would not have made in the first place.”
Mrs Bridgwater, who was refunded her money, warned others to be vigilant. She said: “I’ve sat through presentations for things like double glazing before, but I’d always felt I could say no. In this case, I felt almost obliged. It really was the hard sell.
“If an offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Don’t be worried about being a little less than civil with people.” Anyone concerned about goods, products or services sold on their doorsteps can contact Citizens Advice on 03454 040506. Information can then be passed on to Trading Standards.