/ Home & Energy

Can good neighbours stop rogue traders?

With rogue traders around, being a nosy neighbour isn’t always a bad thing. Rogue traders are a growing concern for many of us and one we need to take on together.

Last week I got a knock from a doorstep seller. While they were perfectly pleasant and not forceful, I just didn’t need their service.

I managed to turn them away without too much hassle, but I wonder how different it would’ve been if I were an elderly person or a vulnerable resident.

New research estimates that 169,000 cases of doorstep crime take place in England and Wales per year. This figure surprised me, but luckily it hasn’t gone unnoticed.

Nosy neighbours beat rogue traders

The National Trading Standards and Citizens Advice research shows that 46% of British adults think their neighbourhood doesn’t look out for those most at risk. While 39% actually know someone who is at particular risk.

It was concerns like these that led to the launch of the ‘Good Neighbours Stop Rogue Traders’ campaign. The campaign reveals some of the most common signs that a neighbour has been visited by an unwanted doorstep seller and what can be done about it.

The good news is, recent changes mean more breathing room to combat pushy salespeople. Under new Consumer Contracts Regulations we now have 14 calendar days (instead of seven) to cancel a purchase after signing the contract. This means there is time to have a cuppa and properly digest what you’ve signed up to.

Your view on doorstep sellers

Some of you shared your experiences on our Facebook page, suggesting some of your tips for how to handle them. Maria said:

‘We have signs up saying we do not buy on the doorstep and uninvited callers are not welcome. Some still knock but we point out the signs.’

Sometimes simplicity is best as Martina explains:

‘I never buy anything from anyone I didn’t call to my house and that is a good line to use.’

And Barry suggests:

‘Just tell them politely “we never buy anything from unsolicited door salesmen – goodbye”!!’

Do you have any tactics for dealing with doorstep sellers? Would you feel more comfortable knowing your neighbours were keeping a look out for you?

How do you deal with doorstep sellers?

I politely tell them to go away (60%, 446 Votes)

I don't answer the door to them (18%, 132 Votes)

I have a sign but it doesn't seem to work (9%, 66 Votes)

I have a sign that sends them away (8%, 56 Votes)

None of the above - tell us in the comments (3%, 19 Votes)

I shout and swear until they leave (2%, 14 Votes)

I like doorstep sellers and don't know what all the fuss is about (1%, 10 Votes)

Total Voters: 743

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I politely tell doorstep sellers that I’m not interested. If they persist, I tell them I have never bought anything as a result of a doorstep visit or an unsolicited phone call.

I try and bring their attention to the sign they’ve chosen to ignore and then listen to all the reasons why they’re a special case and that my sign doesn’t apply to them

I then report then to Trading Standards for ignoring it, and wait for them to do it again, cos reporting them is a waste of time.

Wonder if I should use the following wording instead. If you chose to ignore the above sign , you are agreeing that, as a representative of the company you’re knocking on behalf of, that you accept the door opening fee of £50 and that I should invoice that company. Failure to pay with 14 days will incur a late payment escalator of £50 per day thereafter.

Graham says:
16 December 2014

Your updated sign proposal is brilliant – l’ll get one made for our front-door ASAP!

Perhaps Which? should apply pressure on the Government to bring in a bill which would give your idea the force of law.

Ibrahim says:
13 November 2014

Thankfully don’t get them in my street, in fact cant remember the last time I did, which is good and I would certainly not buy anything at my door and politely tell them to go away.

I have a spyhole door-viewer in an old fashioned wood door with no glass.
I can see them – they can’t see me.

I am extremely skilled at spotting cold-callers.

They are agitated and hyper-active.
They don’t wait very long – 20 seconds is the average.

It’s fun watching them.

I’m thinking of installing a camera and posting them on a new website that will make me a dot.com billionaire.
I will of course spend some of my fortune on a rest home for fallen cold-callers.

Maybe the answer is to have an interactive doorbell instead of just a simple button. It should start by asking “Is the householder expecting you? – Yes/No”. Then “Are you reading utility meters? – Yes/No”. The questions can go on. With appropriately phrased questions, an interactive doorbell could filter out unwanted visitors so that the householder doesn’t get bothered by unwanted visitors.

NFH re: interactive doorbell.

I like it. A bit like having an answering machine on your front-door.
But why stop at ‘filtering out” unwanted visitors?

Would it be legal to connect a metal door mat to the 240v supply? At a certain point in the ‘conversation’ with the caller, the door-bell could complete the circuit.

Something like: “Thank you for calling. Your responses have been noted. Please press Button A”.

What jury would convict us?

rather than risk to the gods of fate, why no just make door step selling/surveys illegal.

problem sorted.

Make door stop selling/surveys illegal.

Make unsolicited phone calls including market research illegal.

Is the government listening? Is Which? listening?

Almost every telephone menu system seems to come with hold music. With a suitable choice of hold music for your doorbell menu system, you can make the caller feel welcome or otherwise!

They made theft illegal, but it didn’t go away.

Too much reliance on the State will make us vulnerable.

“They made theft illegal, but it didn’t go away.” Don’t get me started on how soft punishments for crimes are and how soft HM Holiday camps are too. I can almost guarantee that if criminals were jailed for longer crime would go down only because the main bulk is caused by the few who re-offend and they cant if they’re all locked up. I don’t have access to an Xbox in my own home and I have to pay council tax and I’ve never been convicted or even accused of a crime.

“Too much reliance on the State will make us vulnerable.” True when we don’t have a very strong “State”.

I politely tell doorstep sellers to go away. I find if they come around a sign does not stop them. And they will persist even when asked to leave. I live in sheltered housing and while I and some of my neighbours are quite capable to telling door step sellers to go away, some residents are not. Thus we will intervene if we see them harassing a vulnerable resident. I have previously been verbally abused by a seller for ‘interfering’ because I helped a very elderly neighbour who wanted them to go away. I subsequently had to call the police and warn the council of their presence. Unfortunately these people often target elderly people and will not leave even when asked too.

Wendy, nice to hear that community spirit is alive and well. Good job.

SusieToo says:
27 November 2014

I don’t like door to door sellers and never buy from them. However, I deliberately don’t have a ‘no cold callers’ sign up. I live on a corner and have a very good view from my porch of the houses on the surrounding streets. I also have a lot of elderly and vulnerable neighbours. Therefore, as much as I hate being bothered by cold callers I actually want them to ring my doorbell as I want the cold callers to call on me first before they call on my neighbours. I can then politely ask them to go away, and not to bother my neighbours. I can then stand in my porch, watch where they go next, and if they then head towards the homes of any of my vulnerable neighbours I then go out and politely remind them not to disturb my neighbours. In this way I manage to intercept most of the cold callers before they bother the most vulnerable of my neighbours. ‘Legitimate’ cold callers will usually respond to polite requests. Sometimes it takes a bit of persuasion to convince some that their calls are not and will not be welcome.

I always have a silent cheer to myself when I manage to intercept the worst ones such as the ‘we buy any gold’ types before they rip off my neighbours.

Barrie Miller says:
28 November 2014

I let them speak to my big dog!! if they’re daft enough!!

Who needs a big dog when you could have SusieToo for a neighbour !

Good on ‘yer, Susie.

al thom says:
29 November 2014

I simply tell them that I don’t buy anything at the door.

Roger Smith says:
1 December 2014

I tell door step salesmen “I have no money”. They cant get away fast enough

We very rarely get door-step salesmen, but we occasionally get people wanting to power-wash and/or re-lay our driveway. The usual patter is, “We’re working in the area and we happen to have some tarmac left over, so it wouldn’t cost you very much, etc.’ I thank them for the offer and go on to tell them that I think the driveway is an absolute eye-sore and I’d love them to do it but ‘HE’ wouldn’t let me because ‘HE’ likes it the way it is. Blaming ‘HIM’ for ‘all the ills of the world’ seems to work – so far, anyway!!

william says:
4 December 2014

yeh just tell them not anything over doorstep if we want something from their company we will contact them.

Kate Collier says:
4 December 2014

I judge each on its own merit. I have bought from people and also shut the door in other people’s faces (how could I? ) Some are very polite and some brash, but I believe that they’re all human beings!

I see a person coming up the drive usually – the door bell rings – I open the door – he or she starts to speak – I put up my hand – I say “I rent the property” – and they go away. One person in particular a short while ago was pushy about having double glazing done and I said that a good optician is just up the road perhaps he should pay them a visit because we are double glazed.

I explain that I am up to the eyeballs with the goods they are selling. Then I recount my adventures with the goods which I have had seemingly forever. Then I lecture them on the virtues of (double glazing, insulation etc). My time selling encyclopaedias from door to door is dragged in.
After a while the seller is glad to make his excuses and be off as yet unscathed, or at least not yet bored to death.

Maurice. says:
13 December 2014

Door knockers are usually interested in your property enhancements, saying you are only the tenant gets rid of 95% of them.

I had a visit from someone who pulled up outside my drive, came to to the door and asked me if I would like my drive covered with fresh gravel which he conveniently had in a double wheeled trailer. I could see what the gravel was – it was whats called Pea Gravel (very small) and I said that is not suitable for drives as it gets in the treads of tyres and ends up spread along the road. “Many people use it” he said. He continued with the price quote (£250) so I said the Landlord would not agree and with that he departed. Alot to be said for being a Tenant.

I speak to them politely and usually send them away. If it’s to do with building, say there’s a loose slate, I say “would you show me?” and then say, “thank you, I have a man who does work for me, I’ll get him to fix it.” I have on occasion bought goods from people selling them for charity. It was also a doorstep seller who persuaded me to join the Surrey Wildlife Trust, which was a good thing! Everyone is an individual and some doorstep sellers are absolutely fine.