The Office of Fair Trading is still receiving reports of rogue traders making unsolicited visits to homes offering home improvement services, e.g. roofing work, power washing and tree surgery.
This practice, known as ‘cold calling’, is illegal in the Isle of Man and has been so for over two years. Cold calling also includes unsolicited phone calls made by traders offering home improvement services.
Knocking on doors
A trader knocking on doors attempting to get home improvement work is committing an offence. If the trader manages to persuade a householder to agree to have home improvements done, then the trader will have committed a further offence.
It is not an offence to simply deliver flyers advertising home improvement services BUT a trader discussing those services with householders whilst delivering flyers, or during unsolicited follow-up visits to their homes, will almost certainly be committing an offence. If as a result of such a discussion the trader manages to persuade a householder to have home improvements done, then the trader will have committed a further offence.
Unsolicited phone calls
A trader phoning householders out of the blue offering home improvement services is committing an offence. If the trader manages to persuade a householder to have home improvements done, then the trader will have committed a further offence.
There are many other possible scenarios but traders will generally commit offences by talking to householders whilst visiting their homes, or by phoning them, if the visits or phone calls are not at the express request of the householders.
A trader guilty of an offence is liable to a substantial fine, a custodial sentence or both.
Chairman of the OFT, Martyn Perkins MHK said:
'Our advice is simple. Do NOT do business with traders who make unsolicited visits to your home offering to carry out home improvements.'
John Peet, Chief Inspector of Trading Standards said:
'We continue to work closely with the police and other enforcement agencies to stop cold calling. Rogue traders will deliberately target the vulnerable by cold calling and this can lead to the commission of other criminal offences such as distraction burglaries and fraud.
Victims may not be prepared to give evidence as they are afraid of repercussions, concerned about potential court proceedings or simply embarrassed, however, notwithstanding this, in my experience, it is generally a matter of time before a rogue trader mistakenly targets someone who will give evidence and the OFT will not hesitate to prosecute any rogue trader in those circumstances.
As already indicated, offenders are liable to custodial sentences and/or fines that reflect the impact that cold calling can have on victims. I am personally aware of instances where victims have become very distressed, fallen ill, lost all their confidence or suffered from a combination of these shocking consequences.'
Anyone who has been cold called or has information about rogue traders cold calling is asked to contact the Office of Fair Trading on 686500.