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OFT campaign highlights new doorstep selling rules

LONDON - The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) is launching an ad campaign to inform consumers about new rules allowing them to cancel contracts they have agreed with doorstep sellers.

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The doorstep selling regulations cover all salespeople who visit consumers in their homes to sell any goods and services such as conservatories, double glazing, orthopaedic furniture and utility contracts.

The law has always provided a one week cooling off period when buying from salespeople whose visit has not been sought out by the homeowner.

However, changes to the regulations mean that provided the transaction is for more than £35, consumers will now have a seven day period in which to cancel any agreement they enter into, regardless of whether they initiated the visit or not.

The new regulations also mean that doorstep sellers are required to inform customers in writing of their right to cancel.

The OFT's ads will feature number seven house signs from addresses across the UK to remind consumers of the seven day cancellation period, and will appear in local newspapers throughout October.

In addition, leaflets will also be sent to vulnerable consumers in the east of England, the Midlands, Scotland and Wales, as these areas have been identified as having the highest levels of doorstep selling.

Following a complaint by Citizens Advice in 2004, the OFT carried out a market study into doorstep selling which showed that 94% of consumers were generally unaware of their rights when buying through doorstep selling.

As a result of the study, the OFT recommended to the government that the legislation should be extended to give cancellation rights to solicited visits as well as unsolicited.

Colin Brown, OFT consumer policy director, said: "These new regulations will mean that the law is a lot clearer for consumers. People buying goods in their own home now have a safety net of seven days in which to change their mind -- regardless of who arranged the visit."

 

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