Consumers Warned to be on their Guard from Rogue Doorstep Traders

Trading Standards officers of The Highland Council are advising the public to show the door to itinerant traders, who offer to carry out a range of work on the home.  And residents should not hesitate to report to the police any trader who is menacing and threatening in trying to secure a contract and cash payment. 

The guidance is being issued in response to complaints from the public, especially the vulnerable and elderly, who are being targeted by gangs of workmen travelling throughout the Highlands, offering to carry out work on roofs, building repairs, tarmac driveways and garden maintenance.

Easter Ross has been targeted in recent times.

Alistair Thomson, the Council’s Head of Environmental Health and Trading Standards, is extremely concerned about the trading practices and behaviour of these traders.  He said: “Reports received by our officers suggest that consumers are being harassed into agreeing that work should be carried out on their homes.  Once the work is completed, householders are then intimidated into handing over cash as payment.

“Our advice to consumers is that if someone knocks on their door offering to carry out work on their home, they should be very careful before allowing them over the threshold and think before agreeing to have any work carried out.” 

To help deal with doorstep callers Trading Standards officers advise consumers to:

• Fix a security chain to the front your door, and make sure they use it every time someone calls;
• If in doubt about the identity of the caller, close the door;
• Think before agreeing to work being carried out.  Is there someone locally who might be able to carry out the work? 
• If intimidated by a doorstep caller, the public should contact the police as soon as possible.

If anyone has been a victim of a crime relating to uninvited guests to their home selling goods or offering to carry out work they should contact Highland Trading Standards Unit. 38 Harbour Road, Inverness or telephone on: 01463/228700 for free and confidential advice.

If anyone has felt threatened or intimidated by a doorstep caller, they should contact Northern Constabulary on 08456 033388 or their local police station.

25 Apr 2008