/ 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?