There has been an increase in sellers knocking at your door. sometimes causing anxiety to residents, particularly those living alone. Doorstep sales are nothing new having been a very common method of trading many years ago. Before advertisements, shopping centres and the Internet it was quite normal to buy goods at the door from a friendly, but often persuasive and persistent salesmen. There will be many stories of such activities in villages and towns and the characters who travelled to find customers. In the 21st Century is this still a safe and acceptable method of selling and who are the people behind this trade?
I sometimes receive reports of doorstep sellers who purport to be ex-servicemen or ex-prisoners who are trying to make an honest living. They are neither and are simply using this story to gain your attention, sympathy and support. The ID cards carried often with a Union flag logo and references to our Armed Services are not valid. This is both fraudulent and in my opinion an insult to those genuine ex-serviceman or ex-prisoners who do need our support.
Those using this method of selling will be working for an organiser and are transported together in groups to villages and towns. They will work the area for a short period of time and then move on.
The goods sold from a holdall will have been obtained cheaply, and then sold at the door for a “bargain” price that will often exceed that available elsewhere. Although cash is always preferred some sellers are even using Debit card machines to make the sale! Substandard goods are impossible to return for a refund and the protection provided under the Sales of Goods Act and the Consumer Rights Act are very difficult to enforce. There is also the possibility that goods particularly electrical may not comply with testing and safety standards.
Despite the many myths there is currently only one legitimate method of doorstep selling and that is with a “Pedlar’s Certificate” issued by the Police. The Pedlars Acts of 1871 and 1881 is the legislation. The applicant must comply with certain conditions and be subject to a basic Police check before a certificate is issued. The certificate is valid for one year and can be used throughout the UK.
I have challenged several sellers in our area and have yet to find one with a Pedlars Certificate!
Based on the above, if you do not wish to engage with doorstep sellers please remain calm, polite and firm when declining to make a purchase. Do not invite the seller into your house or make any other donation. If you feel threatened contact the Police on 999 otherwise, please report such visits to the Police on 101 or on-line. Remember the ABC of scam awareness:
• A – Assume Nothing
• B – Believe Nothing
• C – Confirm Everything
Please contact me if you have further concerns or wish to discuss a specific case. Stay safe.
Peter Gill / Kent Community Warden Service – Community Warden/Sandwich, Eastry and Ash.
Public Protection service / Environment Planning and Enforcement / Growth, Environment and Transport | Mob. 07703454190 www.kent.gov.uk/communitywardens.