Trading Standards bring cold-caller to justice
James Cassidy, of Wellington Street, Kettering, admitted to magistrates failing to provide his victim with a written notice of her right to cancel work and to not alerting her to a cancellation fee relating to a jet-washing job on a property in Austin Place, Abingdon, on October 4 last year.
Cassidy knocked on his elderly victim's door and offered to jet-wash her driveway, patio, back pathway and a wall; fill in gaps with sand and apply sealer to them, a job he quoted £1,200 for, before reducing it to £800. He never gave his victim any written notice that she had a seven-day cooling off period.
When the victim tried to challenge Cassidy and then cancel his work, the 24-year-old attempted to charge her £250 for terminating the job, without informing her beforehand that the fee would apply. No money actually changed hands.
At a hearing on 9 December at Oxford Magistrates' Court he was fined £400 for not giving written notice and £500 for trying to charge a cancellation fee. He was also ordered to pay £1,000 in costs and a £50 victim surcharge.
His victim's neighbour contacted Thames Valley Police and Trading Standards officers as he believed the amount quoted by Cassidy for the work was too much. Trading Standards subsequently brought Cassidy to court to face magistrates.
Check before taking on an offer of work
Cassidy had previously been warned by Oxfordshire Trading Standards about failing to inform other customers about their right to a seven-day cooling-off period.
Trading Standards team leader Anu Prashar, who prosecuted Cassidy, said: "Cassidy preyed on an elderly woman and tried to extract money from her when she changed her mind about the work that he was offering.
"It can often be intimidating for people being offered work on the doorstep and it is vital that people take the time to consider what is being offered before accepting what the doorstep seller is saying.
"Our advice if you are not sure is to ask a friend or neighbour to take a look at the problem that a cold-caller has said they have identified on their property and if it does indeed exist, obtain at least three quotes for the work so you are aware of what a good price should be."
Conviction should act as a warning
Oxfordshire Trading Standards Manager Richard Webb added: "This conviction should add as a warning to anybody else who is thinking of trying to dupe anybody in Oxfordshire on the doorstep.
"Cold-calling crime is not tolerated in this county and we will do our best to bring cases to court and secure a conviction, as we have done here."
Councillor Louise Chapman, Cabinet member with responsibility for Trading Standards, said: "This is another example of Trading Standards getting a great result in court against somebody who failed to give a resident the correct notifications relating to a doorstep job.
"Anybody can access our Buy with Confidence scheme, which lists local firms who have been thoroughly checked to ensure that they reputable."
Oxfordshire Trading Standards are asking people to report any concerns about cold-callers.
Top tips on dealing with cold-callers:
- Do not agree to any work being done or sign a contract until you have talked to someone else
- You should never agree to have work done by someone who is just passing, or take their word that work needs to be done at all
- Do not be pressured into paying them before they do any work
- Do not accept any offer from them to drive you to the bank to withdraw money
- Ask for identity cards and check them thoroughly before allowing the person entry to your home - all genuine callers will carry a card
- Utility companies now use a password system to gain entry to some people's home - when a representative calls they will be expected to give the password to prove they are genuine
Anybody wanting to report a problem they have encountered with a doorstep seller can submit their concerns online or select option 1 after calling Oxfordshire County Council Trading Standards on 08454 040506.
People wanting to see a list of businesses who have been thoroughly checked by Trading Standards to ensure they are reputable can visit the Buy with Confidence website. Businesses can also find out more about how to be listed on the site.