Your doorstep, your decision

Many people who sell things on the doorstep are legitimate traders, however some are prepared to use illegal pressure selling tactics and ignore customers’ legal rights says Doug Anthoney.

The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) stresses that if you ever feel pressured for any reason, it’s okay to say no and ask the trader to leave.  However if you do make a purchase that you later regret, you do have rights.  These apply if you agree to spend as little as £35, and even if you invite a trader into your home. 

By law the trader must give you a written cancellation notice at the time you buy, telling you about your right to cancel.  You usually have a cooling-off period of seven days to change your mind and cancel. This starts on the day you get the cancellation notice.

If you do decide to cancel the contract you must let the trader know in writing within seven days of receiving the cancellation notice. If you receive goods during the cooling-off period, and you didn’t agree to this in writing, you don’t have to pay anything if you cancel. Keep the goods safe and ask the trader to collect them. The trader should not insist that you pay any money.

If you have agreed in writing for work to start or goods to be delivered during the cooling-off period then you can still cancel within seven days, but you may have to pay the trader something, usually a reasonable amount.

The OFT offers ten top tips for dealing with doorstep traders.

1. Don’t sign on the spot
2. Check the trader’s identity
3. Be wary of special offers or warnings about your home
4. Always shop around for the best price
5. Read the small print
6. Double check the facts
7. Talk to someone you trust for a second opinion
8. Don’t hand over a cash deposit
9. Think very carefully before you agree to a trader starting any work straight away
10. Trust your instincts

For more information visit the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) website.  An extended version of this article will appear in the autumn edition of Advantage magazine, coming soon.   

Doug Anthoney is Age Scotland’s Communication and Campaigns Officer.

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