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Updated on February 24, 2012


I am sure, given the interest shown in earlier Hubs, dealing with telephone cold callers, boiler rooms and their tactics to get the unwary to part with their cash, that all of us are aware that all that is offered over the telephone is far from genuine. That is also very true of a lot of those unwanted knocks on your door or rings on your bell at home. The days when they were confined to men selling domestic cleaning products have long gone. I well remember them, for as a a child my mother would purchase from them.In those ,more innocent days, the sellers were often ex soldiers returned from the war and trying to make their own ends meet. Now ,however it is often a different story with all types of spurious dealings confronting the unwary.

Much is quite rightly made these days of warning the more elderly of the unprincipled callers that may be encountered. Only this week I heard of one such person being virtually held hostage in the house by a doorstep caller selling Double Glazing and who refused to leave until the hapless owner had signed up for a £14,000 agreement. Fortunately, in passing, the old victim mentioned the experience next day to a caring friend who knew the ropes and was able to involve those who knew how to rescind the business. Had the old person not mentioned it and time passed, they would have been committed to the purchase.

Even so, it is not only the elderly who are targeted and fall into the trap of dealing without due care with doorstep callers. People of all walks of life are susceptible and the range of "products and services" being touted is enormous. Key examples are, as mentioned earlier, Double Glazing and other matters relating to the property from Driveways to Roofs and from Wall Coatings to Garage Doors etc. etc. In fact there is nothing that doorstep sellers in these days seem unable to offer and therein lies the big problem, for, as Supermarkets well know, we are all open to making impulse purchases every time we visit their stores. So with the door steppers, they bank on either vulnerability or impulse as their two main selling tools.

Now, let me say here that there are some exceptions. Exceptions in this category range from accredited Charities, to programmes seeking to rehabilitate young offenders, and even students seeking for sales of their own efforts to sustain their studies. We have had 2 of the last two mentioned call in the last week at our door and below I will explain how we dealt with them and also the principles involved in avoiding all pitfalls in the doorstep sales area.


As young ladies in earlier years were told by their mothers, the simplest way is to just say "NO" but that is too simplistic a solution here to stand alone. The old adage that prevention is better than cure is certainly best for the elderly and vulnerable. My wife has an independent 89 year old father who lives alone. On his door he has two stickers. The first advises that he is a member of Neighbourhood Watch and the second informs all approaching to the effect that those within purchase nothing at the door. Now, let us be clear, those stickers are not total protection but they do reduce the number of callers and can be referred to at once if they commence a sales spiel. He has remarkably few callers these days of the selling fraternity, being more likely to be targeted by phone, which, as he is partially deaf tends to be a frustrating experience for the caller. He also has a door chain which enables him to retain fully the defence of his threshold if necessary. These simple measures are those that, in my opinion, all siblings should ensure are in place if they have elderly and independent living relatives.

Turning to those who may be legitimate, as referred to above, it will usually be found that they will not bother doors with deterring information presented to them. Not counting myself as vulnerable, I am thus open to that knock on the door. Many have the sense to come in daylight but some, like the lady student last week arrive after dusk. As a principle, I would not even discuss matters in the "dark", though the sensible precaution of a porch light protects us. In the case of the young lady, she had a portfolio of her own paintings to sell. Thus ,advised that we could not consider things at that time of the evening and had visitors {always have visitors regardless}, she was content and asked if we would look at them on another occasion. I told her we would but would need to verify her authenticity with her Student Card and to contact her Tutor for confirmation. She has yet to return. Earlier in the week I purchased a small First Aid Kit from a recovering Young Offender. He presented the authority card of the Probation Service involved, in correct order and was relaxed when I told him I would have to contact them first. ALL being correct, he made his small sale, after discount was negotiated, and was profuse in his thanks. I paid £2.50 for the set. That was probably £1 more than I could have purchased it at our local discount store. Even so, if having carried out my checks, I had contributed £1 to him regaining an acceptable place in Society, then I have no qualms.

Even so, examples like those two are the exception rather than the rule and thus, as a general rule, purchase nothing at you door, do not allow such callers access to the house and always have a door restrain chain in place to avoid unwanted entry. If you do get caught into signing any agreement, then kick yourself and take prompt action to rescind it whilst within the "cooling off "period. These simple rules seem so obvious when put to paper, but everyday, 1000"s ignore them and in too many cases pay a heavy price for so doing. If any reader has particular examples of doorstep mis-selling, can I invite you to place them as a comment after reading this. Knowledge is power as they say and being alert to this type of problem can avoid expensive mistakes.


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