Trading standards officers in Hartlepool are urging residents not to buy goods from doorstep traders.
The warning follows reports of householders being ripped off and intimidated by doorstep traders selling household cleaning products.
Like other rogue traders they are more likely to target elderly or vulnerable residentsIan Harrison
Ian Harrison, Hartlepool Borough Council’s trading standards and licensing manager, said residents need to be on their guard against rogue traders who are looking to make a quick profit.
He said: “We have recently been made aware of traders knocking on people’s doors offering cleaning products such as dusters, brushes and disinfectants for overinflated prices. They are also known to intimidate residents.
“The traders, who are known in enforcement circles as ‘Nottingham Knockers’ due to the origin of the practice, will often have a sympathetic story, claiming for example that they have just been released from prison and no-one will give them a job, and they just trying to get back on their feet.
“However, in reality this is just a fabrication aimed at appealing to a person’s good nature to make their victim more likely to buy the items they are selling, and in most cases when they are not even needed.”
Trading Standards investigations have found that the items offered for sale by the ‘Nottingham Knockers’ can be purchased from genuine retailers for a fraction of the price. In some cases it has been found that items such as dusters have been purchased from a pound shop and then sold on for as much as £10.
Mr Harrison added: “The door knockers can operate solely or in groups and target a specific area on a given day. Like other rogue traders they are more likely to target elderly or vulnerable residents.
“Investigations have also found that some ‘Nottingham Knockers’ research an area to identify vulnerable and wealthy residents to plan burglaries.”
Anyone who sells goods on doorsteps is required by law to hold a peddlers certificate issued by the police. But, rogue traders can easily forge these certificates.
Mr Harrison continued: “We strongly advise people not to deal with doorstep traders however appealing their offer maybe. Always use a genuine trader you are sure you can trust.”
Through the Safer Hartlepool Partnership, free ‘No Cold Calling’ window stickers are available to the public from Hartlepool Civic Centre and all of the town’s libraries.
Residents can also apply to make their street a ‘No Cold Calling Zone’ which prohibits cold calling in a specific area. For further information, or if you have any concerns about rogue traders, contact Trading Standards on (01429) 523362.