Warning against hard sell tactics

WARNINGS have been issued today after dozens of Suffolk residents raised concerns about hard sell tactics being used.Suffolk County Council's Trading Standards has received complaints about some companies operating door-to-door in Suffolk, selling anything from security alarms to double glazing, to electricity maintenance.

WARNINGS have been issued today after dozens of Suffolk residents raised concerns about hard sell tactics being used.

Suffolk County Council's Trading Standards has received complaints about some companies operating door-to-door in Suffolk, selling anything from security alarms to double glazing, to electricity maintenance.

It is thought that they specifically target elderly and frail residents in Suffolk - sometimes telephoning them and other times cold-calling unannounced at their homes.

A Trading Standards spokeswoman said today: "Since the start of October, the trading standards advice line has received 42 calls about doorstep sales, most of which are from residents concerned about selling techniques or from consumers requesting advice or guidance on doorstep calls."

Officers had one report of a company visiting an elderly lady in her home despite her expressly refusing an appointment when they had telephoned her earlier. They then tried to pressurise her into buying a product she did not want or need.

The Trading Standards spokeswoman added: "These firms often use sales patter that preys on the fears of older residents. They can claim anything from rising local crime figures, to residents being in imminent danger in their homes and needing immediate and complete rewiring!"

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A spokeswoman for Suffolk Police said: "Suffolk Constabulary do not endorse any particular product. We would urge anyone considering purchasing a security alarm or any other type of product to consider very carefully before signing any contract.

"Trading standards advice is to get several quotes from reputable local companies to compare with any quote that is received, in order to ensure you are getting value for money.

"We do have many complaints because people have felt pressurised into entering agreements to buy items."

Weblinks:

www.tradingstandards.net/pages/lalist.htm

www.suffolkcc.gov.uk

Trading Standards advice is to beware of companies which

· Call older residents to make an appointment to visit them at home.

· Highlight possible danger of safety or maintenance issues in their home.

· Emphasise crime levels in the area, preying on the vulnerability and fear of elderly residents.

· Use high-pressure scare tactics to sell security packages, ranging from £800 for a security light to £3500.

· Ask to be paid only in cash.

· Offer to take people to their bank to collect money there and then.

· Leave without contact details, making it difficult for the resident to get any redress.

People should stop and consider:

· Do you really need the product? If so, shop around. Get personal recommendations and quotes before you sign anything.

· If you accept a visit from a salesman, try to have a friend or relative there as well.

· Don't believe the scare stories a salesperson may tell you, they are rarely true.

· Don't believe a cash deal is cheaper, it usually isn't.

· Don't be pressurised into paying by cash as it may be difficult to get your money back if something goes wrong.

· Don't sign anything until you have read the information in your own time.

· Remember, a reputable company will give you plenty of time to consider their offer.

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