Highland residents warned to be on guard against free home alarm offers

Highland Council Trading Standards are warning all residents to be on their guard when answering ‘cold-call’ telephone sales calls offering a ‘free home fire and security survey’, if they agree to a home visit by sales staff.  

This warning follows on from previous warnings by Trading Standards as a result of firms continuing to target elderly and vulnerable consumers in the Highland area.  Consumers are advised, to shop around for a home/fire safety alarm system, locally, before agreeing to a home visit.

Previously firms have promised ‘free installation’ or a ‘free alarm’ as incentives for allowing sales staff to visit them at home, to carry out a survey. However, more recently, consumers have contacted Highland Trading Standards, with their concerns stating that they are now being offered a ‘free home security and fire safety survey visit’ to see if their home is eligible for a ‘free alarm system’. 

With alarm systems previously been quoted as anything from £3000 to £6000 per contract this could well be a costly means for a consumer to protect their own home, especially when local alternatives are available to residents.

Highlands and Islands Fire & Rescue Service (HIFRS) are keen to point out that their own Community safety staff regularly carry out FREE home safety checks for all residents in the Highlands.  Appointments can be made with householders at a pre-arranged time.  All HIFRS staff wear uniforms and hold identity cards which are presented to the householder prior to the visit. 
Highland residents can contact the HIFRS directly on free phone number 08000 121312 to book a FREE home safety check visit.  During the visit, the householder will be given information on how to install and maintain smoke alarms, and how to stay safe from fire hazards in the home. 

Northern Constabulary also offers free advice and information to all Highland residents about crime prevention and home security.  Highland residents can visit the Northern Constabulary website for details on http://www.northern.police.uk/Crime-Prevention/crime-prevention.html or either visit or telephone their local police station for advice.   

Highland Trading Standards, Principal Trading Standards Officer, Gordon Robb in addition to the warning to be cautious of such sales tactics, wishes to remind all consumers, who have or may be considering inviting sales people into their own home,  that they do, in most cases, have a seven day cooling off period.

However, he adds: “Although consumers should be made aware of these cancellation 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 Trading Standards warns that although consumers have the right to cancel, the address given by a business may not be a bono fide address or it may belong to an entirely different business.  Mr Robb continues: “We would advise all consumers to be cautious of entering any legal contract at home and if in doubt to ask for a copy of the contract to be left with them, before they decide to sign.” 

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.

For further Highland Trading Standards news please go to: www.highland.gov.uk

7 Jul 2010