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August 7, 2013

New consumer protection laws target pressure sellers

Macintyre-undercoverThe government appears to have paid attention to all those Donal MacIntyre undercover shows and drafted legislation to deal with pressure sellers and other sales sharks. You know the people. Door to door salesmen, timeshare hawkers and insurance men who make misleading claims and bully people into signing expensive contracts for things they don’t actually want or need.

It’s estimated that around £3.3 billion a year is given over this way. Often the people targeted are vulnerable and least able to afford it, such as elderly folks who are known to be at home most of the day. The legislation will give consumers 90 days grace in which to cancel the contracts if the sales pitch is misleading, aggressive or manipulative. It will also give consumers the right to file for compensation for emotional distress caused by the dodgy dealers.

Some of the industries known for their sharp practice are timeshare hawks who harass and harangue people on holiday into taking out a contract. In some instances they lure in holidaymakers with a promise of a voucher or prize in exchange for attending a meeting, after which they make it very hard for them to leave. Sometimes salesmen even make their victims put down a cash deposit to be collected at the end of the meeting, only to make the meeting drag on for hours without any food or drink. People are known to have signed contracts just to escape the haranguing of the sales reps.

Conmen who target people at home, such as insurance and home improvements hawkers, will also be targeted by the new legislation by the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills. Some of their sharp practices include knocking for people incessantly, sometimes several times a day, and other forms of harassment.

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