Highland Trading Standards Officers alert public to resurgence of free alarm offers

Highland consumers are being ‘cold called’ at home with the promise of free household alarm systems.  However, the offer may sound too good to be true and Highland Council Trading Standards Service are warning householders to be on their guard.

Warning goes out particularly to elderly and more vulnerable consumers who appear to have been targeted by sales staff. 

Highland Council Trading Standards have received calls from concerned consumers in the East Ross area who have been promised ‘free installation’ if they go ahead with a home visit to get an alarm system fitted in their home.   However the ‘free installation’ may only be available to consumers if they sign up to a lengthy and expensive ‘maintenance contract’.

Highland Council Principal Trading Standards Officer, Bob Jones, advises: “I would strongly advise any householder to shop around before taking up offers such as these over the phone. Simple measures such as proper door and window locks may be all that is required for a householder to protect their property.”

Highland Trading Standards reported a similar sales tactic in November 2009, when householders were being called with an offer for a free ‘alarm’ if they signed up to a complete alarm system.

Bob Jones said: “We are concerned that unsuspecting consumers may be caught out on the phone and agree to home visits on the promise of ‘free installation’ or a ‘free alarm being fitted.  The value of some of these contracts can be from £3,000 to £6,000.”

Under consumer protection legislation, consumers do have a seven day cooling off period if they enter into a contract in their own home. However although consumers should be made aware of these rights by the trader, some unscrupulous traders are omitting this information. If a business fails to leave a notice of cancellation with the consumer, informing them of their rights and how to exercise these rights, then he or she is committing a criminal offence.

Highland Council Trading Standards Service would like to hear from consumers who are concerned about cold calls they have received or the practices of salespersons who visit them at home.  Consumers can contact The Highland Council, Trading Standards Service, TEC Services on 01463 228700 or by visiting or writing to: Highland Council Trading Standards, 38 Harbour Road, Inverness IV1 1UF.

19 Feb 2010