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How to deal with doorstep salesmen

When a salesperson calls, they are there to sell you something - so don't let them into your home unless you intend to buy. At best it is a waste of time and you may end up buying something you don't want.

Most importantly, before you invite anyone into your home, check their identification.

Don't sign or commit yourself to anything until you have time to think it over. The salesman will normally offer a discount for signing immediately (often after speaking to "his boss" on the telephone).

Don't be pressurised. The discount will almost certainly be available tomorrow.

If you are buying something major like double glazing, always get a selection of quotes. If you don't, you may end up paying too much or you may see something you prefer later.

If you do sign an agreement at home you have cancellation rights in some circumstances, but if these do not apply you may be stuck with the deal. If the initial contact with the seller was uninvited and the goods cost more than £35 you normally have seven days to cancel. You should get written details of these rights from the seller.

If you buy anything costing more than £50 on credit you can cancel, whether or not you invited the salesman, provided you discussed it face to face and you signed the credit agreement at home. You should get a copy of the consumer credit agreement explaining these rights.

If you want to cancel, don't delay. Send a letter recorded delivery so you have proof of posting. Don't rely on a phone call, although both letter and phone call might be a good idea. If you decide to cancel don't be talked out of it or delayed until your right to cancel has gone.

There are a number of people who go round the doors offering to do roofing, painting, tarmac laying, etc. They may be legitimate but it is often a complete con. They may try to persuade you that you need major work done and then overcharge you for a botched job which wasn't needed in the first place. It may even be a complete fraud and you will lose your money for nothing.

Don't be fooled by claims that it must be done right away or by claims of cheap rates. Always get another quote. Make sure you know who you are dealing with. Check addresses and telephone numbers. Never part with money in advance unless it is an agreed deposit to a legitimate trader. Don't pay the balance until you are satisfied.