|Cold Calling. Don’t buy it!
That’s the message from both Wigan Council’s Trading Standards team and the Trading Standards Institute during National Consumer Week (starts Monday 12th), about the perils you could face on your own doorstep.
The Trading Standards team is particularly concerned to protect vulnerable residents who are Cold Called on their doorstep and help them guard against being ripped off.
Conmen and women can take many different guises and they’ll sometimes pose as an official, claiming they’re from the ‘water board’, the council or even the police.
Wigan Council’s Trading Standards Manager Julie Middlehurst says: “They will often be plausible and may carry official looking ID badges. These people will claim they’ll sort out your problems, but what they’re really after is your hard earned cash. So always keep them out until you are sure they are who they say they are.”
There’s another type of doorstep con-artist and this one doesn’t wear a suit or carry a clipboard. It’s the jobbing builder who’s come to fix your guttering, roof, path or garden for a knockdown price. They’re often ‘just in the area’ and happen to notice that you need some work doing.
Julie says: “These people will charge extortionate amounts for work that is often not needed and it can be really shoddy workmanship. In some cases they don’t do any work at all but still charge for it and they’ll want money up front. One thing’s for certain, when things go wrong you’ll not see them again.”
What can be particularly distressing is that these people will deliberately target the elderly and vulnerable. The effects of falling foul of conmen can be devastating, leaving the victim too afraid or embarrassed to tell anyone and heartbroken at the loss of what can often be a large part of their savings.
To help combat this, during National Consumer week, the Trading Standards team are offering free information booklets and door stickers, to borough residents.
Called ‘Think Twice’, the booklet is a handy tool in the fight against doorstep crime. It tells residents exactly what to do if a conman calls, and the stickers can be displayed in the window to deter callers in the first place.
Julie adds: “Our message really is ‘think twice’ before you open your door. It’s your doorstep, your decision and if you have any doubts, keep them out!”
- To report a suspicious cold calling doorstep trader or to find out more about your rights, call the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 08454 04 05 06 (calls charged at local rate).
- For a free copy of the ‘Think Twice’ booklet and sticker, please ring Wigan Trading Standards on 01942 827476.
- If you are looking for a reliable trader to do some work for you, check out the Wigan Trading Standards Good Trader Scheme at www.wigan.gov.uk/goodtrader or ring 08454 040506 and ask for the Wigan Good Trader Scheme.