12 November 2012

Trading Standards officers in Northamptonshire are urging people to stay safe in their own homes by saying a firm ‘No’ to cold calling doorstep traders.

Today (12 November) marks the beginning of the Trading Standards Institute’s annual National Consumer Week – following a London launch by BBC presenter Gloria Hunniford and consumer minister Jo Swinson MP the message 'cold calling – don't buy it' is now taken to every community by local trading standards services.

Householders are encouraged to display a No Cold Calling sticker, available from Trading Standards, in their front door or window. It tells cold calling doorstep traders to go away and reminds the householder to telephone the dedicated Doorstep crime Action Network hotline on 0345 23 07 702 to report them to the police and trading standards.

Officers from Northamptonshire are backing the national campaign to close the door on rogue traders and help end the heartache and financial loss that can be caused by unscrupulous cold callers, who often target the elderly and vulnerable.

More than 10,000 complaints are made about cold calling doorstep traders every year, but this is likely to only be the tip of the iceberg – we know victims are often embarrassed and frightened and many incidents will go unreported.

A recent investigation led to the arrest and subsequent imprisonment of William Wallace, who had cold called elderly and vulnerable consumers across the region stating that repair work was required to be carried out to their property.

In one instance in the county, a lady in her 80’s had paid Wallace over £26,000 for work to her property that was worth no more than £900. Wallace was sentenced to four years in prison and was described by the judge as being “despicable, pitiless and heartless”.

In addition to the No Cold Calling stickers promoted during National Consumer Week, Trading Standards have also to date created 53 ‘No Cold Calling Zones’ in the county, and residents have stated that this has made them feel safer in their homes.

Cllr Ben Smith, county council cabinet member with responsibility for Trading Standards, said: “Every day trading standards officers up and down the country are dealing with cold callers targeting vulnerable consumers for expensive, unnecessary and badly done home maintenance work."

"Our message is clear: we think that there is only one way consumers can really stay safe from rogues in their own homes, and that is by saying ‘no’ to cold calling doorstep traders. Remember, if you’re not sure, don’t open the door."

“With our Cold Calling – Don’t Buy It campaign we want to raise awareness particularly amongst the more vulnerable consumers that cold callers could be anyone and that they should never be dealt with.”

If you do need work done in and around your home or garden, Northamptonshire County Council Trading Standards runs Buy With Confidence, an approved trader scheme that brings together a list of stringently vetted businesses from across the county that have been individually checked for trustworthiness and compliance with consumer protection laws.

To find local businesses who are Trading Standards approved go to www.northamptonshire.gov.uk/approvedtraders, call 0300 126 1000 or email bwc@northamptonshire.gov.uk

To apply for a No Cold Calling sticker, please telephone 0300 126 1000 or email tradestd@northamptonshire.gov.uk