It’s easy to get caught off guard by pushy salespeople. Whether they turn up on your doorstep, stop you in the street, or target you through texts, emails or phone calls, they can be very persistent and it’s easy to end up buying goods or services you don’t actually want – or need.
Use our eight-point plan to avoid falling victim to pushy sales tactics:
1. Make an informed decision
Take your time as you would any other kind of purchase. The salesperson is probably under pressure to meet targets – but don’t feel obliged to rush to sign up.
Be polite but firm – say you want some time to think over the offer. Take down their name and contact details and say you will be in touch when you have decided what to do.
Alarm bells should ring if you hear something like “this is a one-time offer”. This is definitely a signal to walk away before being rushed into a decision you may regret.
2. Don't be tempted by a deal that sounds too good to be true
Don't take only their word for it that whatever they are offering is the best, no matter how convincing their argument sounds. Do your own research and shop around to see what the competition is offering.
It’s easy to be charmed by sweet talk and a smile – salespeople know the easiest way to get you on board is to become your 'friend'. But remember, this is business. If in doubt, leave it and walk away.
3. Know your rights about doorstep selling
If you are approached at your home, there are specific rights you have if you sign up to something.
You have the right to cancel within 14 days from the ‘conclusion’ of your contract. Don’t be afraid to cancel – you don’t need to give a reason. If the company didn’t tell you about your rights to cancel then your cancellation period is extended to 12 months.
Doorstep sellers can be persuasive – if you feel that you were mis-sold a product or service, you can report them to the Direct Selling Association (DSA). If the supplier is a member of the DSA and is found to be in breach of their code, you may receive compensation or a replacement or repair.
4. Set up a “No Cold Calling Zone”
“No Cold Calling Zones” help combat doorstep crime in areas where unwanted rogue cold callers and doorstep crime is rife.
These were created by the Trading Standards Institute in response to the growing problem of elderly people being targeted – and ripped off.
Zones are usually defined by lamp post signs and stickers placed in the doors or windows of homes within the Zone area.
To set up one in your area, you will need to present justifiable reasons for doing so (such as being in a high crime area or somewhere with a known history of nuisance callers). Contact your local Trading Standards Office or the Trading Standard Service in Wales for more advice.
5. Get tough on junk mail
If you’re receiving a large amount of junk mail (which is another version of cold calling), you can sign up to the Mailing Preference Scheme (MPS). Simply register you address online and it will remove your name from junk mail sales lists.
If you have received a marketing mailing that you were unhappy with, you can also make a complaint to the MPS online.
6. Stop unwanted sales calls
Are you constantly answering the phone and batting away sales calls? The Telephone Preference Service can take you off landline and mobile phone sales lists. This is a free service enabling you to record your preference on the official register and opt out of receiving unsolicited sales or marketing calls.
7. Deal with troublesome texts
While sales messages via text can seem less intrusive, they still have the power to cause a lot of problems for you.
The first rule of unsolicited spam SMS messages is – never reply. Many are sent out on mass to randomly generated numbers.
They will try to persuade you to respond with a message such as “reply ‘STOP’ to be removed from this mailing list”. However, if you respond it confirms that your number is genuine. Your number will then be sold on to more unscrupulous marketeers who will continue to bother you with unsolicited calls and texts.
If you’re sure the text is a legitimate marketing message, replying with ‘STOP’ should take you off the mailing list.
Text messages should only be sent to you with your prior consent. If you receive an unsolicited SMS message you can easily report it by forwarding the message directly to the short code 7726 (spells ‘SPAM’).
You can also report it to the Information Commissioners Office (ICO), which investigates every complaint it receives, and always block the number the message was sent from.
8. Say goodbye to spam emails
Is your inbox full of unwanted marketing messages and spam emails? The law states that no one should send you marketing messages without your permission. The reality is that most of us receive high volumes of emails that we don’t want.
Your email programme should be adept at filtering out the majority of unwanted spam into a separate folder. If this isn’t happening, check and adjust your security options.
Sometimes, we tick the box to receive marketing message and later regret it. All marketing emails should contain an ‘unsubscribe’ link – simply click on this and follow the instructions to remove yourself from an individual list.
If the email is from a reputable company, you can also contact them directly to ask to be removed, but never respond to a message from a name or company that you don’t recognise.
You can complain to the ICO if you still receive marketing emails or spam after unsubscribing or asking the sender to stop emailing you.
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