21/07/2011

Beware Rogue Doorstep Traders, Says OFT

Householders are being warned to beware of rogue traders knocking their doors with the offer of cheap building and maintenance services.

Figures released on Wednesday by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) show that home improvements continue to top the list of complaints about doorstep rogue traders.

The OFT is therefore urging consumers, especially the elderly and vulnerable, to be on their guard against rogue traders knocking at their door.

Last year, Consumerline, Northern Ireland's consumer advice service, received almost 600 complaints from Northern Ireland consumers related to home maintenance work.

The top five complaints were general building work, plumbing tarmacing and paving, central heating work and roofing.

With complaints about home maintenance peaking in the summer months from July through to the autumn, Consumerline is urging householders to be cautious and take time to think about people who call at the door.
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Rogue doorstep traders will often offer services at attractive rates and use persuasive sales techniques to encourage people into making hasty decisions.

Stephen Thompson, Consumerline manager said: "It is not illegal for handymen to canvas for work, but it is important that people are cautious and do not make hasty decisions.

"Rogue doorstep trading is an ongoing problem in Northern Ireland and work or service carried out can sometimes be unnecessary, of a poor standard, much more expensive than originally quoted or not done at all.

"This campaign is helping people to recognise the warning signs, so that they have the confidence to say no if they're unsure about what is being offered."

Consumerline offers sound advice on how people can avoid being scammed by rogue doorstep traders.

A statement said: "If a trader knocks at your door, do not agree to on the spot house repairs, or sign anything on the spot.

"Be wary of special offers or warnings that your house is unsafe and do not make snap decisions.

"Take time to talk to someone you trust before you make a decision and if in doubt, call Consumerline on 0300 123 6262.

(BMcC/GK)

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