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Caithness.org News Bulletins -  November 2002

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A Foot in the Door - Advice and Tips on Buying at Home

Highland householders are being offered help and advice so they can make the right choices when buying goods and services from home or when approached on the doorstep. The offer comes from The Highland Council, whose Trading Standards Officers are focusing on the pitfalls of buying at home during National Consumer Week, which begins Monday 11 November 2002

The Highland Council's Head of Trading Standards, Nigel MacKenzie, said: "We receive a steady stream of enquiries and complaints regarding doorstep sellers who visit our area, especially over the spring and summer. Our Consumer Advice Line staff receive a number of complaints from elderly or disabled consumers living on their own. These vulnerable consumers are often unsure of their rights when placed in these circumstances and feel they cannot be forceful when dealing with a very persuasive and high pressured salesperson.

"All too often these traders have already left the area or details of these callers are not known before a complaint can be investigated. Rogue traders have been known to sell services such as 'resurfacing of driveways', 'repairs to roofs', 'damp-proofing of houses' and more recently Trading Standards Officers have heard of callers offering to fit 'burglar alarms' and 'smoke detectors'. Goods being sold can be of inferior quality or fake. We have come across poor quality televisions and video recorders as well as suites of furniture."

Trading Standards Officers recognise that it is important to give consumers the confidence to deal with these callers and have available supplies of a specially produced leaflet called 'Think Twice: Trading Standards advice for senior consumers'. This gives brief and clear information on how to deal with doorstep sellers and can be obtained free of charge by contacting the Consumer Advice Helpline on 0845/600/4222.

Householders are urged to observe the following important points when dealing with doorstep sellers :

* Take care when opening the door to anyone. Fit and use a security chain every time you open the

* Always check for identification of the caller, which can be verified. Reputable traders can leave
   business cards for consumers to check.

* Do not agree to work on your house until you get a second opinion as to whether you actually need
   the work done.

* Do not agree to any work where the caller says 'We are only in the area today'.

*If you did not ask the trader to call, you may be entitled to cancellation rights. Ask the trader to
   explain these to you.

* Get a copy of any contract or piece of paper you sign.

* Never keep large amounts of cash in you home and keep purses and handbags out of sight.

* Keep a list of your credit card numbers and bankcard numbers in case of theft or loss.

* FREE security advice is available from the Police Crime Prevention Officer at your local police station.
   Highland Police Station Telephone Numbers

For further information and advice on 'doorstep selling' please contact your local Trading Standards office at:

The Highland Council
Transport, Environmental and Community Services
Trading Standards Unit
38 Harbour Road

Or call our 'Consumer Advice Line' on 0845 600 4222 or email us on  consumer.advice@highland.gov.uk 

Highland Trading Standards Web Site

Click Here To Find Other UK Area Trading Standards Departments