Issued By
County Council

Trading Standards Call for Ban on Doorstep Selling

NORTHUMBERLAND County Council Trading Standards Department has joined a national campaign to call for a complete ban on so-called “cold calling” and doorstep selling.

The demand comes after a massive nationwide survey revealed that 95.7% of people said they “do not want doorstep sellers calling”.

The survey of 8,700 residents (almost eight times larger than an average MORI poll) indicated that only 0.1% of respondents welcomed doorstep sellers, while 10.5% had endured “bad experiences” with doorstep sellers over the past two years and 31.6% considered them to be “a nuisance”.

The results in Northumberland closely reflect the national picture with 96.2% of 728 respondents surveyed saying they do not want doorstep sellers calling.

Top of the nuisance callers are double glazing sales people (18.5% of all cold callers), Energy sales people (17%), those offering house and garden services (12%) and housewares (9%).

In Northumberland 9% of people surveyed said they had a bad experience with doorstep sellers over the past two years. But only one in five had complained to any authority, eg police or trading standards. Most of the bad experiences were with energy and double glazing sellers.

Although Trading Standards officers are concerned about bad selling practices by doorstep sellers, they are more worried that in some cases these callers provide a front for distraction crime and burglaries.

Only about 12% of those surveyed said they always asked for official identification from the doorstep seller.

“It is quite clear from this survey that householders quite simply do not want salespeople cold calling,” said Mick King, County Trading Standards Officer.

“Replies were almost unanimous in saying that they don’t welcome them and such operating methods had no benefit.

“There are 130,000 households in Northumberland and if these results are indicative of the general population then between 11,000 and 30,000 people in Northumberland have had bad experiences with one or more cold calling doorstep sellers in the past two years.

“Together with our partners we are endeavouring to introduce a national Cold Calling Protocol which should go some way to regulating these trading activities. But our long-term aim is to seek a total ban on cold calling doorstep selling, particularly in relation to property repair services.

“Meanwhile we are some way to establishing a multi-agency approach with the police, district councils and charities such as Age Concern, Help the Aged and Citizens Advice Bureaux to raise the profile and highlight the dangers of this insidious form of trading.”

Notes for Editors:

During the second week of November 2002, Northumberland County Council Trading Standards Department, joined with 15 authorities throughout the UK in the largest trading standards survey ever undertaken.

In Northumberland, two separate surveys were undertaken:

Random Householders:
1,500 households were selected at random from telephone subscribers listed in the British Telecom directory 2002/2003. 312 returns were received.

Targeted Survey:
These were targeted at older people. In total 1,000 survey forms were sent out with 416 completed questionnaires being returned.

Further information is available from:
Nic Outterside, Press Officer, Northumberland County Council
Tel: 01670 534251
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