With the winter winds howling and the chill clinging to our fingers and noses, another form of seasonal trouble arrives – dishonest tradesmen with fake smiles, and conniving thieves taking advantage of the merry atmosphere.
Here are some reminders to help you avoid a Doorstep Cowboy.
- A door chain and spyhole are simple but handy, acting like a shield against shady people who come knocking on your door. Also remember to keep your back door locked at all times.
- If a ‘tradesman’ comes directly to your door, chances are they’re looking to scam you. While the notion that they’re showing their face may seem equally trustworthy, the real hard workers who want to do right by you will have contact information, a website, and excellent reviews online. Save yourself the paranoia and avoid door to door trades every time.
- No matter where or what, ALWAYS get a written quote BEFORE work begins. Agreeing to pay cash without any paperwork or receipts can lead to costly problems and stress worthy complications when you can’t prove your purchase further down the line.
- Sure, you’ve promised yourself you won’t say yes to door to door trades. But you might lower your guard if a company comes knocking on your door with a phrase like: “Your property needs work…it will be cheap…or it will get worse…we are working on your street today.” This cold call is nothing but an easy scare tactic, and the best thing you can do is just say no. If you’re still nervous about what the cold caller said, contact a trustworthy company and ask them to verify.
- If you need a quote for work that needs doing, make sure you use an established local scheme like Checked and Vetted, or use a local council trader scheme.
- Always do your research and give preference to trades who are members of review websites… Cowboys don’t give out feedback cards!
- A helpful key tip to remember; if you are sold anything within your home you have a 30 days cooling off period.
- If a salesperson arrives at your property and takes advantage of your good nature, you have every right to ask them to leave. You should never feel pressured or pushed into a deal or a signing, if you ask them to leave, they must do so immediately- that’s the law!
- If you have good neighbours, try phoning them and ask for their support.
- If you’re being pestered by a salesperson, useful phrases to use are; “No, I’m not in a position to buy these goods and do not want them”. Or, it may help to plead poverty. “No, I don’t have any money, please leave”… Or you could tell them “My husband/sons are coming ‘round in half an hour, they will deal with the problem. Then close the door.” If you find it difficult to be assertive on the spot, memorise these phrases, read it like a script in your mind, and say the lines out loud.
- Avoid opening the door completely, check ID if necessary but don’t invite them in, and don’t engage with the trader or show signs of interest. Simply tell them you’re not interested, close the door and call the police, as they could be criminals targeting your area.
Say no to rogue trades – shut the door – warn your neighbours. Stay safer together.