Say no to energy & telecoms doorstep sellers

Something has been annoying me lately and I feel the need to share it with you. Maybe it’s my imagination, but it seems to me that more and more organisations have taken to aggressive door-stepping in our neighbourhood. Now, I’m not talking about Jehovah’s witnesses, individuals selling tea towels or rattling a charity tin, I’m talking about energy and telecoms giants knocking on our doors and telling us all kinds of nonsense in order to make a sale.

As a home worker, there is nothing I detest more than being disturbed by somebody trying to sell me something. When the phone rings and it is a cold calling sales rep, I’m already disappointed it isn’t somebody I actually want to talk to. The fact that they continue trying to flog a dead horse, when I’ve politely expressed my lack of interest, is insult to injury. But at least you can put the phone down if necessary. It’s much harder to shut the door in somebody’s face, although these days I am quite willing to do so if it comes to it.

While the sales calls have reduced – I’m subscribed to the Telephone Preference Service by the way, but it seems that some companies ignore it – the door-stepping has increased. And what worries me is that I find representatives from energy and telecoms companies often disguise their real purpose and which company they are from.

Typically this is how things go. The other week a guy knocked on my door and said: “We’re in the area and we are checking which tariffs people are on because we hear people are paying too much. Could you tell me which energy provider you are with?” At no time did he show me his ID, which company he was from or what he was selling. He didn’t even say whether he meant gas or electricity. At least he was wearing a card which, when I strained to read the tiny print from a distance, said Scottish & Southern Energy. I told him that I didn’t mean to be rude, but it was our business who our provider was and that we were happy with them. He became increasingly aggressive, insisting: “But you’re going to miss out on these discounts!” How would he know when he was unable to compare his prices with what we are currently paying? For all he knew, we generated our own electricity! He only went away when I shut the door in his face.

Another guy pulled the same stunt and had the front to tell me that his power company was the cheapest because it ‘was the only one that was still British and not foreign-owned’. When I told him I was a journalist and what he was saying was utter nonsense, he looked worried and went away. I wondered if this was patter designed to appeal to older consumers. Another financial journalist I know told me she’d had an energy company rep pretending he wanted to read her meter in order to try to wangle his way into her home.

A female door-stepper told me: “We’ve been writing to people to tell them that there have been changes to the telecoms network and that they may be able to get a discount. Are you with BT?” She wasn’t wearing any ID at all. I told her I hadn’t received any letter and asked what she was selling and which company she was from. She wouldn’t tell me at first and persisted with her patter, until eventually when I persisted, she admitted she was from TalkTalk. Anybody who has followed the blog since it began may remember my long battle with TalkTalk. I politely told her what I had experienced and how I’d vowed never to do business with the company again, if I could help it. She smiled politely and left. Ironically I found this article on TalkTalk’s website about how to deal with doorstep sales people! It has some good tips in it, too!

We shouldn’t stand for this kind of bullying behaviour. We already have the phone and mail preference services to cut down on other nuisances, such as junk mail and cold calling, so why should we put up with doorstep sellers? Why isn’t there a service we can sign up to which will legally prevent cold callers from knocking on our doors? Trading Standards is promoting no cold call zones around the UK but it can take a bit of organising to get one off the ground. Perhaps we can get one up and running here. I am so fed up that I have resorted to putting the notice above on our front door. I just hope it does the trick.

Have you been bothered by doorstep sellers from energy, telecom or other companies? Leave a message and tell me about it.

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10 Responses to Say no to energy & telecoms doorstep sellers

  1. Bill says:

    As I understand the law, cold calling, otherwise known as "doorstepping" is still yet illegal. Last friday evening, 21:30pm, I had a nutter on the phone, attempting to collect £895 debt which I do not owe, in extremely broken English. I simply told him the truth, I do not know his firm, have never done any business with \’em, & therefore owe \’em nout. Then he told me that they were collecting for me local council, so I finally told him that the entire conversation was being recorded, & asked if he would like me to play it back for him, just in case he may have missed something. I also told him that I would be reporting the case, & would mention the hideous hour. He then apologised with "wrong number", & finally hung up. I still yet have the tape, & will see his firm in court, soon.

  2. Bill says:

    P.s. I finally got T-Mobile to see sense this week. After they attempted to invoice me yet again @ £19.25p/month for pathetic dial-up, which is impossible anytime after midday, & at least 48hrs every weekend. I was attempting to reduce it to the £12.50p Business/Charity Rate, but after mentioning my solicitor, as also the ombudsman, they have given me a new contract, @ £10/mth. + free text. Problem is, they have the best mobile coverage nationwide, even in Wales, Scotland, & the South West.

  3. Flo says:

    Remember that these people are on commission – it\’s about £60 per sign up – and that they probably don\’t get any decent sales training on the proper way to make a sale before being sent off on the streets. And yes, there are proper ways to sell (bit like having a knitting pattern). Likewise there are sales ethics and morals. But you won\’t meet either proper training or ethics knocking on doors. Most people don\’t understand either their telephone bills or their gas/electricity bills enough to be able to know if they are on the most suitable tariff from their present company still less to be able to do it on the doorstep with a stranger who has no business to be asking for personal details anyway. It\’s the sort of thing that should be done on the internet by those of us with enough understanding, by some organisation such as one of the respected charities for older people in the case of pensioners or by someone from a neutral organisation such as Citizens Advice. I don\’t think that your notice will do one bit of good – the people about whom you complain are much too hardened to take any notice. People just HAVE to say No. Once there are no sales on the doorstep it becomes pointless to try to do the job. Till we get to the state where it\’s not acceptable to have door step sellers like it\’s not accepttable to have burglars on the doorsetp then these rascals will reappear regularly.

  4. piper says:

    Knocking on doors can\’t be a job that anybody wants to do and is likely to be something you choose to do when there is nothing else available. I really think that in this day and age doorstep selling of any kind – unless it\’s perhaps something like window cleaning – should be completely outlawed. None of us want these people knocking on our doors and often people just sign up to get rid of the person who is bothering them. Perhaps it sounds harsh but I dislike charities knocking on my door too. It\’s intrusive and you often feel that you have no choice but to give them something, even if you\’re not entirely sure if the charity is a genuine one, because you look selfish not doing so. On the internet it\’s up to you to decide which charity to give to and while chuggers in the street are just as aggressive, walking away from them is easier than shutting a door in their face.

  5. Flo says:

    It needs a whole road to get involved to clear the area of door knockers. We\’re good at it here and it may have taken a couple of years but we have been quite clear for a long time now. We do all say No and shut the door. It may be a hard thing to learn but if you can get all your neighbourhood together and work on it, word will get round believe me. The trading standards way is the best way to go. I know – it takes time and effort but if you are seriously annoyed then time and effort is required. Sorry Piper but we really do need to get away from expecting someone else to do things for us. Passing a law is one thing, making sure it\’s enforced in this case will fall on the person at the door. I know that what I say sounds harsh but think about it for a bit. You don\’t need to be horrid, smile as you shut the door and fit a security chain to stop the foot in the door trick.

  6. Peter says:

    Hi Piper!Just wanted to say how interesting I\’ve found your Blog. Have now saved it in \’Favourites\’ and expect to read more information from your site shortly.Just to say. HOME INSURANCE selling is yet another \’pain in the butt\’ that we are all increasingly having to put up with! Just about everyone and his dog seem to be selling this! It\’s got to the point where you daren\’t even talk to your neigbours or Doctor just in case they quite suddenly add to the conversation \’..and who is doing your House Insurance?!!! All of this doorstop selling, telesales calls etc is nothing more than harassment, and it\’s about time the government took some action for a change and actually did something about it.Worse still now are the growth of \’Auto dialers\’ (from the States?), which wake you up at all times of the day and night trying to flog you something. I\’m pig sick of it all.Would love to see some prosecutions taking place on these companies who hassle us. (I think that\’s wishful thinking though!)One way of getting back on those energy companies though is to start generating some of your own power so you have less need of them.I run 12 solar panels which generate some power to run TV, Audio, lighting etc.It makes a reasonable difference on the energy bills, and its great to see the sales guys faces when they knock on your door and then catch sight of the panels slowly doing themselves out of business!The way forward is for folks to do green activity like this, then we can become more independent from these harassing suppliers! Must go now, got 30 bags of free manure to process for the veggy garden! More soon!

  7. Bill says:

    Hi Peter,If yer waits fer gov.uk to get off their collective Duff & take action, yer will still yet be waiting, way into the next Millenium!No election will change that.

  8. piper says:

    Wow – Peter. I\’m very impressed with your solar panels. How effective are they do you think?

  9. Peter says:

    Hi Piper!Sorry for delay in replying, just seen your question!On a good summers day, I\’ve seen my panels generate some 6 Amps at 24volts (which is a good measure of charging current into my two solar batteries!)Of course, you don\’t get that sort of current every day, but the system works well in the summer powering the TV, Cd Player, Freeview set up and some lights etc. It will power more electrical items, but I need to upgrade it with a more powerful invertor. (just as soon as I can find another job following my redundancy last year!) I\’ll send you on some pictures of it all in the Spring if you or your bloggers are interested.It\’s all home made and reduces my carbon footprint (albeit not a massive amount), but it\’s good to do something really green and feel a little independent from the power companies.(not to mention the huge feeling of excitement you get when you see your meter readings start to rise, and realise you\’re generating your own electricity and it\’s not costing you a bean!)That\’s living!!!(at a previous house in 1977, and inspired by the TV program \’House of the Future\’ (at that time), I built a solar water heating system and installed it on the roof of my house in Stevenage. Apparently, I was the first person in Stevenage to install solar water heating. (my claim to fame!)That is something I want to do at my current house, but again, when time / money permits.In \’Recession Britain\’ and Climate change, these are the sorts of things that we all need to be thinking about.Peter..

  10. Elizabeth says:

    Just tell any cold-callers that the property is rented and therefore you are not allowed to change energy / telecom suppliers. Get\’s rid of them lickety-spit.

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