South Ayrshire Council is warning local residents about aggressive sales tactics being adopted by individuals who are visiting homes in the local area claiming to be offering home insulation.
A number of calls have been received by both the Council and the Energy Agency – our partner in delivering the South Ayrshire Free Insulation Scheme – regarding so-called 'offers' from doorstep callers of loft insulation that would also result in the provision of a brand-new boiler within a year.
In one instance, the doorstep callers claimed to be from South Ayrshire Council; while, in another, the callers – who vary from one individual up to groups of three and have been described as both well-dressed and attractive – told the householder they would be liable for a £700 fine if they didn't 'top-up' their loft insulation.
Councillor John McDowall, South Ayrshire Council's Portfolio Holder for trading standards issues, said: "We take a very dim view of these kind of sales tactics and want to ensure our residents know how to deal with people who turn up on their doorsteps in this way. The most important point to remember is that if you receive a knock on the door from someone claiming to be from the Council or some other known organisation – check it out, ask for identification and call the organisation to verify the caller's identity."
Representatives from BCA Insulation – working on behalf of the Council and the Energy Agency – are currently conducting doorstep surveys within South Ayrshire offering free energy advice and, where appropriate, free loft and cavity wall insulation.
However, these doorstep surveys are being carried out in line with best practice. Furthermore, the South Ayrshire Free Insulation Scheme is completely free, no money will be requested and representatives will happily give residents the opportunity to verify their identity or call back at a more convenient time.
Councillor McDowall continued: "Any legitimate business will be happy for you to check their credentials and they should always leave when asked to, so if you're feeling pressured by anyone calling at your door, ask them to leave their contact details and get back in touch when you've had time to think about what they're offering."
PC Kevin Reynolds, Strathclyde Police Crime Prevention Officer added: "While the majority of sales people will be genuine, we know there are unscrupulous companies out there as well as bogus callers. To keep yourself safe, don't let anyone into your home unless you're expecting them. Use a spy hole or door viewer to see who's there, check ID badges and call the company to check on them.
"If you're alone, you can ask them to come back when you will have someone with you and don't let them pressure you into making quick decisions about spending money. If you're in any doubt, don't let them in and report them to trading standards and to the police – that's what we're here for."
While the majority of sales people you deal with will be bona fide, trading standards also advise you to think carefully about whether you really need the work done, is it the right price, can you get it cheaper from someone else and can you trace the trader if things go wrong?
Never deal with anyone on the basis of a telephone or mobile phone number contact only, and be very wary before giving your bank details to a stranger.
Councillor McDowall concluded: "More than anything, it's about being vigilant. We don't like to alarm people unnecessarily but, as the saying goes, forewarned is forearmed and we just want to make people aware of what we know about what's been happening locally. That way, hopefully our communities will be kept safe and no one will be swindled out of their hard earned cash."
If you or anyone you know has been contacted by a cold caller and you suspect they are not who they claim to be, call Trading Standards (during office hours) on 01292 616060 or call Strathclyde Police on 0141 532 2000 and ask to speak to your local community policing team.
For further information on the South Ayrshire Free Insulation Scheme, call 0800 512 012 or visit www.energyagency.co.uk.