Issued By
West Yorkshire Trading
Standards Service
NATIONAL CONSUMER WEEK
NATIONAL COLD CALLING PROTOCOL - TUESDAY 12TH NOVEMBER 2002

 

Everybody and particularly the most vulnerable are at risk from bogus callers and doorstep rogue traders.  Unfortunately, West Yorkshire residents are no exception.  These problems are well documented and well known to investigation agencies such as West Yorkshire Trading Standards and West Yorkshire Police.

Throughout the five districts of West Yorkshire there are many excellent initiatives underway, helping to educate householders with particular emphasis being placed on older adults to change to safer patterns of behaviour.

One of the most difficult problems residents face, is knowing who to deal with and who to avoid.  Many organisations do periodically need to make calls, for example meter readers, representatives from the utilities and Local Authority Officers.

The following protocol developed in conjunction with the Leeds Distraction Burglary Initiative is being promoted nationally by the Trading Standards Institute in partnership with many of the major utilities, such as PowerGen, NPower, British Gas, British Telecom and Transco.  On a regional level the protocol is being promoted to each of the five constituent authorities Bradford, Calderdale, Kirklees, Leeds and Wakefield.  The protocol puts the onus on the caller to take the necessary steps whether the visit was requested or not to prove to the householder that they are who they say they are and primarily to put the householder at ease.

National Doorstep Cold Calling Protocol

Wherever possible representatives will have previously made appointments.  On the occasions where this is not possible the following procedure will be observed:

1.      The representative will physically hand their identification card to the householder and declare their name and organisation.  They will request that the householder compares their face with the photograph on the card and explain that they will not enter until the householder does so.

2.      The representative will carry a larger identification card for examination by persons with sight difficulties.  This card will bear print of at least font size 14 with an enlarged photograph.

3.      The representative will explain the purpose of his/her visit.

4.      The representative will explain that the householder can check their identification by telephoning their organisation and that they can arrange for attendance of a third party eg. neighbour if they wish.

5.      The representative will make it clear that they will not enter the house unless the householder is happy for them to do so.

6.      The representative will always be happy to return at a later pre-arranged date/time if the householder requests.

7.      The organisation will provide a landline telephone number, preferably free phone, to facilitate employee bona-fide checks.  This telephone number must be a direct line to a person/people and not utilise automated call management systems.  Where possible this number should also be listed in the public telephone directory and other company advertising material.

West Yorkshire Trading Standards Service has issued all field officers dealing with members of the public in their homes larger identification badges to ensure that they know exactly who they are letting into their homes (see example).

Councillor Graham Clarke, Chairman of the West Yorkshire Trading Standards Committee said,

“The issue of doorstep rogue traders and bogus callers targeting householders, particularly those in vulnerable categories, is a disturbing aspect of modern society. Our officers will be carrying the larger identification badges on all residential visits, as well as adopting all aspects of the protocol.  We want to make sure that West Yorkshire residents are confident they know who they are dealing with and more importantly who they let in their homes.  Educating members of the public to ask these type of questions will help eliminate the problem of bogus officials.”

 

For further information please contact:

Mr. David Lovell – Trading Standards Officer Tel 0113 2898 233

Mr. Tony Downham – Principal Trading Standards Officer – 0113 289 8247

Mrs Linda Davis – Educations and Promotions Officer – Tel. 0113 289 8246

Mr Graham Hebblethwaite – General Media Contact – Tel. 0113 289 8218

 

Notes to Editors:

A photo opportunity with councillors and officers with the large ID Cards will be held, unless stated otherwise, on Tuesday 12th November as follows:

Leeds Civic Hall 12.00pm with Councillor Keith Wakefield.

Councillor David Payne, Kingsgate Centre, Huddersfield at 2.30pm

Councillor Michael Walls, at Bradford City Hall at 10.30 am

Councillor Malcolm Slater, at Keighley Town Hall at 12.00 noon

Calderdale to be confirmed.

Several Councillors will be available in Wakefield Town Hall, between 1 and 2pm on MONDAY 11 November

(Exact details of the locations can be arranged with one of the contact officers above)