Doorstep selling campaign in conjunction with Office of Fair Trading (OFT)
Doorstep selling is when a salesperson sells you goods or services in your home or on your doorstep. If you spend more than £35 with a trader on your doorstep you gain certain legal rights which are important for you to know. These rights apply even if you invite someone into your home.
At consumeruk.co.uk we are hearing more and more horror stories from people who have been conned by doorstep traders. Worryingly many of those conned are elderly and we feel strongly that this must stop. With this being the case consumeruk.co.uk is launching a joint campaign with the Office of Fair Trading where our aim is to educate householders on what their rights are when doorstep traders come calling.
So with this in mind here are our top tips on doorstep selling:
1. Do you need to buy from the doorstep seller?
Never make a snap decision. It will be a rare occasion when a doorstep seller is selling goods or services that you cannot buy elsewhere from a person/company that has business premises.
2. Know who you are dealing with
Don’t be afraid to ask the seller for identification. Also ask them for their company details such as trading address and actual business name. You should verify that these details are correct before proceeding further.
Never pay for work or materials in advance, too many people do this and never see the trader again! Also, never pay in cash. If you do this it is too easy for the trader to claim that they have not received payment from you.
If you decide to purchase from the trader try and pay using a credit card as this will give you additional protection should anything go wrong.
4. Don’t be forced to sign anything
Some doorstep sellers will try to pressure you into signing a contract with them. Never do this until you have had the chance to take the contract away and read it and you are 100% happy with what it says.
5. Know your legal rights:
a. Written cancellation notice
By law the trader must give you a written cancellation notice at the time you buy, telling you about your right to cancel (even if there is no written contract). If you don’t get a cancellation notice, there’s no binding contract between you and the trader and you don’t have to go through with the sale.
b. Fourteen day cooling off period
You usually have a cooling-off period of seven days to change your mind and cancel.
The cooling-off period starts on the day you get the cancellation notice. If you cancel within the fourteen days you won’t owe anything and you should get back any money you have already paid (including a deposit).
Importantly if the retailer fails to clearly tell you about your rights to return the good within 14 days, the return period extends to a year!
c. Deciding to cancel
If you do decide to cancel the contract you must let the trader know in writing within fourteen days of receiving the cancellation notice. When cancelling, keep a copy of your letter or email as proof of cancellation. If you send your letter by post, get proof of postage as well. If you receive goods during the cooling-off period and you didn’t agree to this in writing, you don’t have to pay anything if you cancel. Keep the goods safe and ask the trader to collect them. The trader should not insist that you pay any money.
d. Starting work or delivering goods within the cooling-off period
If you are buying services or certain types of goods (e.g. customised goods) you can agree in writing for work to start or goods to be delivered during the cooling-off period. If you have agreed this in writing then you can still cancel within seven days, but you may have to pay the trader something (usually a reasonable amount).
6. If you don’t want to be disturbed by doorstep sellers
If you want to stop doorstep sellers knocking on your door simply display a sign on your front door stating that you do not answer the door to doorstep sellers and that they should not knock on your door. If they ignore this report them to the police and trading standards.
Please help to spread this knowledge, especially if you know anyone who is elderly who could be vulnerable to doorstep sellers.