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What You Need to Know About Door Step Selling

By: Chris Nickson - Updated: 6 Aug 2013 | comments*Discuss
Consumer Right Door Step Selling Trading

We've all had salesmen turn up on the door step. At times they're following up on a phone call you've received or made. At other times, though, they've arrived out of the blue, hoping for a sale. What can you do about them, and what are your rights if you buy something from them?

At First

Be very wary about letting salespeople into your home. Did you ask for them to call? Do they have appropriate identity? If you're interested in what they are selling, you can ask them to come back at another time that is more convenient for you - for example, when you have someone else with you, and are less likely to be pressurised by a sales pitch.

Always ask for an identity card and look at it carefully. Check their identity by ringing their company using a number from the phonebook, not a number they give you.

The Sales Pitch

The sales pitch can be very high pressure - one elderly man, for example, was subjected to fours hours of persuasion by a salesman before he signed. Don't let yourself be persuaded or flattered or made to feel that you need the product unless it's something you genuinely do need. Take control and make sure you ask the questions.

Never sign a contract on the spot, even if the salesman claims there are only a few of the item left. Check with other companies offering the same product first. Don't be hurried into a decision, even if they offer you a discount. The discount might simply mean the price was too high in the first place.

If You Decide to Buy

If you decide to buy, always get everything you've agreed with the salesperson in writing, ideally on the contract itself. If you change your mind about your purchase, the legal protection you have depends on whether the visit was 'solicited' or 'unsolicited'. You solicit a call if you respond to an advert or ask them to visit.

If the visit was solicited, and you asked the salesperson to come, then you don't have the right to cancel the contract. That makes it particularly important not to sign anything until you are quite sure the product or service is what you want and is the right price for you.

If the visit was unsolicited (for instance, if someone called in person or they phoned you to make an appointment without you asking them to) you have a cooling-off period of seven days to change your mind (you could have longer if the salesperson didn't mention your cancellation rights). You can cancel any contract that you've signed for goods and services above the value of £35.

Unless you need the work done urgently, never agree for goods to be installed during the cooling-off period as you may lose your right to cancel the contract. If you do change your mind, act fast. Cancel in writing and get proof of cancellation - keep a copy of an email or fax receipt or recorded delivery slip. Be aware that if goods (e.g., a fitted kitchen) are installed during the seven day cooling off period, you may cancel the contract, but you'll be liable to any costs associated with the installation (delivery and fitting, for example). Any related credit arrangements will remain in force, but no interest will be payable on any money paid within one month of cancellation or before the first installment is due.If you cancel the contract, and the goods have already been supplied to you, you must let the seller collect them and look after them in the meantime.

Door-to-door sellers must provide a notice setting out cancellation rights when any agreement is made. Failure to do so makes the agreement unenforceable. This is true whether a deposit is paid or not.

To exercise your cancellation rights, you must write to the trader (or any person specified by the trader in the notice of cancellation rights). Such written cancellation will, if sent by post, take effect at the time of posting.


If you want to complain about a doorstep trader, contact your local trading standards department (www.tradingstandards.gov.uk). For more advice on your rights, or on how to deal with a particular problem involving doorstep selling, contact your local Citizens Advice Bureau (www.citizensadvice.org.uk).

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