Police and Trading Standards issue cold caller warning

neighbourhood watch logoPeople should be wary of buying goods from cold callers after dozens of reports of suspicious sellers in villages across Sussex.

Residents have been calling police and Trading Standards about vans turning up in streets and opening their doors to illegally sell chainsaws and televisions amongst other items.

There have been reports of people have paying a high price for the items to find they are cheap and of poor quality.

Sgt Chris O’Leary said: “We have had reports of illegal selling of chainsaws and gardening equipment in numerous locations including Horsham, Littlehampton, Worthing, Uckfield, Hastings, Lewes, Mid Sussex and Rye in recent weeks.
“As a police service we need to reduce the risk to people and warn them to be wary of buying from cold callers. If it sounds to good to be true, it probably is. However, at this time, we have not linked the goods to any theft offences.”

Louise Baxter, Trading Standards Team Manager at East Sussex County Council, added: “With the recent warmer weather we’ve seen a rise in incidents of cold calling and illegal sales across East Sussex. We are very concerned, especially when older or vulnerable people in our communities are targeted and we would advise people to avoid the cold callers and only use reputable traders.”

East Sussex County Council has the following advice for people:

  • Do not deal with people who knock on your door offering to do home improvement work or want to store their equipment on your property
  • If you do receive such a call, then stop before you answer the door, put the chain on and check the person’s credentials. If you do not know the caller do not let them in, as once they are in it may be very difficult to get them to leave.
  • Do not agree to any work where the caller says “we are only in the area today”
  • Do not be enticed into hiring the caller on the basis that they will offer you a reduction in price, if you allow them to store their machinery on your property.
  • Do not buy TVs or other goods from cold callers or from people selling goods from vans parked in car parks.

East Sussex County Council Trading Standards has a good trader scheme ‘Buy With Confidence’. The list contains a diverse range of businesses including builders, plumbers and gardeners. In East Sussex, to find an Approved Trader please call 01323 463440 (Option 1) or visit http://www.eastsussex.gov.uk/buywithconfidence.

West Sussex County Council also has advice about cold callers on their website at http://www.westsussex.gov.uk/living/consumer_advice/consumer_issues/no_cold-calling_at_my_home.aspx along with information about their ‘Buy With Confidence’ scheme.

For consumer advice on trading standards issues, contact the Citizens Advice Consumer Services line on 08454 040506.


John Wright
Sussex Neighbourhood Watch Federation.