Issued By
Cumbria County Council

Trading Standards Institute Call For Ban On Doorstep Cold Callers

TSI National survey shows 95% of consumers surveyed say NO to cold callers


23 April 2003, Essex: The Trading Standards Institute (TSI) is today calling for a ban on the doorstep cold calling of property repairs, maintenance and improvements after receiving an overwhelming response from angry consumers, following a major national survey.

The national survey was launched in November last year during the TSI National Consumer Week and nearly 9,000 randomly selected householders reported back. 95.7% said that they did not want doorstep sellers calling. Only 0.1% said that they actually welcomed such calls.

The survey showed a high level of cold calling - 61.5% of consumers said that they had received a cold call in the previous 3 months and as many as 25% indicated that they have had a bad experience with a cold calling doorstep seller in the past two years.

Of particular concern was that only one in six consumers ever reported it to the authorities.

The highest levels of problems were in relation to energy sellers (gas and electric) and the property repair, maintenance and improvements. 5.6% of respondents said they had had a bad experience with energy sellers and 9.7% with property repairs.

If these figures were representative throughout the UK, this would mean that 1.4 million people would have had problems with energy sellers and 2.4 million with property repair callers.

In a follow-up report by the Trading Standards Institute, the particular problems relating to the doorstep cold calling of property services are highlighted, such as elderly people being duped into losing their life savings and intimidation by aggressive and unremorseful rogues.

Ron Gainsford, Chief Executive of the Trading Standards Institute said “Up and down the country householders have been ripped off for large amounts of money by unscrupulous criminals passing themselves off as roofers, gardeners and property improvement businesses. Often using false names and addresses they leave distressed, bewildered and frightened people with little or no chance of redress.

“With the rising aged population and increased home ownership, this is an area long overdue for strict legal control. The public, honest businesses and enforcement authorities are unanimous in their view that it is time to take firm action and ban the cold calling of property repairs, maintenance and improvements.”

Ann Robinson, Chair of the energy regulator Energywatch says “The TSI survey highlights the distress that cold calling causes and we urge any consumer who has had a bad experience with a energy sales representative to contact Energywatch.“

It is often argued that doorstep callers can provide a valuable service, but when consumers were asked if they could think of any value which cold calling sales people brought to themselves or householders in general - 96.2% said no and this was the case irrespective of the age group.

The Trading Standards Institute will be working closely with the OFT, Energywatch and other regulatory agencies to try and improve the situation.

Brian Steele, Ex Chief Superintendent, West Yorkshire Police has been brought on board as a consultant to the Trading Standards Services on Doorstep Crime / Selling and will be calling for the ban on the doorstep cold calling of property repairs, maintenance and improvements at the upcoming TSI Annual Conference in Edinburgh.

Ron Gainsford added, “Reports, leaflets and codes of practice are all positive means of educating consumers, but if we are to protect the vulnerable elderly person from the professional experienced conman we need firm action and that is why we are calling for a outright ban on property repairs, maintenance and improvements cold calling.”

The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) is currently investigating doorstep selling under the new Enterprise Act 2002 and a report is expected by the end of the year. This will look at all aspects of the industry and report on areas where new controls may be required.

Notes To Editors

1. TSI spokespeople are available for interview; please contact the TSI Press Office to arrange a time.
2. For a full copy of the survey statistics please contact the TSI Press Office or visit www.tradingstandards.gov.uk/xxxx
3. For a full copy of the TSI report “Door to Door Cold Calling of Property Repairs, Maintenance and Improvements - Long Overdue for Statutory Control”, please contact the TSI Press Office or visit www.tradingstandards.gov.uk/xxxx (This report is approx 40 pages long)
4. For case studies (we have approximately sixty-four examples) please contact the TSI Press Office.
5. The TSI Annual Conference is being held during 23 – 26 June 2003, in Edinburgh, please contact the TSI Press Office for more information.
6. The doorstep selling survey was undertaken by 15 local authorities, listed below, please contact the TSI Press Office to arrange interviews if required: -


1. Durham County Council
2. West Yorkshire Joint Services
3. Solihull MBC
4. Northumberland CC
5. Gloucestershire CC
6. Cumbria CC
7. London Borough of Newham
8. East Riding of Yorkshire
9. Lancashire CC
10. Shetland Islands
11. Carmarthenshire CC
12. Barnsley MBC
13. Fife Council
14. Kent County Council
15. North Yorkshire CC

About the Trading Standards Institute
The Trading Standards Institute) has represented the interests of Trading Standards professionals for 120 years. We have a long and proud history of ensuring that the views of our members are well represented at the highest level of government, both nationally and internationally.

Our purpose is to promote excellence and enhance the professionalism of our members in support of informing consumers, encouraging honest businesses and targeting rogue traders.

Media Enquiries
Hayley Raffill
Communications Manager
TSI Press Office c/o Storm Media
Telephone: 0870 872 9030 / Out of Hours TSI Press Mobile: 07870 671202
pressoffice@tsi.org.uk / www.tradingstandards.gov.uk