Trading Standards Warning Over Rogue Traders and Cold Callers in West Yorkshire

Friday 9 August

Trading Standards Warning Over Rogue Traders and Cold Callers in West Yorkshire

During the summer months, home owners often look to the repair and maintenance of their homes. West Yorkshire Trading Standards wants to remind householders to be extra vigilant about traders who turn up unannounced on their doorstep offering to carry out property repair or gardening work. They will offer to carry out the work for a low price, but then pretend more work is necessary, with costs quickly escalating.

Communities are also being urged to look out for elderly and vulnerable relatives, friends and neighbours who are often preyed upon by rogue traders.

Six key selling techniques often employed by bogus doorstep sellers:

 

  • You’re made to feel grateful - the friendly salesperson turns up on your doorstep with a gift and it might seem rude not to invite the sales person in.
  • You’re made to feel as if you have lots in common - the seller picks up on things you have in your home, such as photos of your family or hobbies, and pretends they are keen on the same things to gain your trust.
  • You’re made to feel as if there is a great sense of urgency - the salesperson says they’ve got a special discount for you, may pretend to check with their boss, then say that if you don’t order now you’ll miss out. You’re being pushed into making up your mind and signing a contract on the spot without any time to reflect.
  • You’re made to feel committed to the service – and that you’ll lose face if you don’t buy - the seller gets you to agree to harmless statements about how a service would make your life easier. By answering ‘yes’, you are starting to say ‘yes’ to the sale without realising it, and may feel too embarrassed not to buy when the seller suggests that you’ve implied that you will.
  • You’re made to feel that you will be just as happy as all the other contented consumers - the salesperson talks of lots of people like you who have bought the product and you feel reassured that you’re getting a good deal.
  • You’re made to feel as if the service is endorsed by an expert - the seller will emphasise that the service has been thoroughly tested and is approved by a professional association, charity, celebrity or council, so you feel reassured by a credible endorsement.

 

A rogue trader may also leaflet an area in addition to making doorstep calls.

 

These are some suggestions from Trading Standards on positive steps you can take to limit the risks:

 

  • don’t sign on the spot; consider carefully whether you want the goods or service
  • always shop around for the best price
  • be wary of special offers or warnings about your home
  • don’t hand over a cash deposit
  • refuse to allow a trader to start any work straight away
  • speak to someone you trust for a second opinion

A multi-agency task force at Trading Standards, the West Yorkshire Financial Exploitation and Abuse Team (WYFEAT), comprising of professionals from Trading Standards, Police and Social Services, investigates doorstep crime and safeguards victims.

 

Councillor Habiban Zaman, Member of the West Yorkshire Joint Services Committee which oversees the work of Trading Standards, said “Doorstep crime can affect anyone, however, rogue traders often prey on elderly and vulnerable people and can have a significant detrimental impact on victims over and above their financial losses. Trading Standards relies on information from members of the public to catch these criminals and bring them to justice. If you are concerned that you or a neighbour may be a victim please contact Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 03454 040506.”    

 

David Lodge, Head of West Yorkshire Trading Standards, saidA charismatic salesperson can be intimidating and it is easy to fall for their charm. This is a skill often used by rogue traders, to convince you to buy something you may not need or agree to terms you haven’t fully checked out. It is not illegal for traders to canvas for work in this way but it is important that people are cautious and don’t make hasty decisions about agreeing to have work done by traders who come to their doorstep.”