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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