Friday, 4 November 2011

Trading Standards: Making Sure Vitamin Sales Are ‘Healthy’


At Cambridgeshire County Council’s Trading Standards Service we have seen a sudden rise in complaints from older residents and their families on their behalf, about the pressure selling of vitamin pills over the telephone.

Some residents have had calls from people alleging to be doctors telling them that they must buy certain vitamin pills to protect their health. Others have been receiving persistent calls to the extent that they have felt bullied into buying these pills, only to find they have been sent more and more, resulting in mounting costs. In fact, some residents have parted with hundreds, even thousands of pounds.

The advice from Trading Standards is to never agree to anything on the spur of the moment, either on the phone or at the door. If the company is using high pressure selling techniques it often means their products aren’t good value. Take your time to think about it. Talk to friends or relatives if it involves a lot of money. Particularly when it comes to vitamin pills (or any form of medication), it is important to speak to your own GP to make sure the products are suitable for you.

If you do feel pressured to enter into an agreement over the phone, then you are usually allowed to cancel and return the goods up to 7 working days after you receive them. Furthermore, if you agree to buy something face to face from a salesperson that calls on you in your home, and you agree to pay more than £35, you usually have 7 days to change your mind. By law the salesperson must give you a written notice of this right to cancel.

If you think you have been mis-sold something, or been pressured into buying a product or having some work done, our partner advice team, Consumer Direct, is here to advise you. It is a free, confidential and impartial government advice service, who can be contacted on 0845 4040506.

You can actually take steps yourself to help reduce the number of sales calls you receive by registering with the Telephone Preference Service. This allows you to opt out of receiving sales and marketing calls and businesses are obliged by law to abide by that. To register, call the Telephone Preference Service on 0845 070 0707 or register online at www.tpsonline.org.uk.

Furthermore, if you would rather people didn’t call at your door offering to sell you things or do work for you, we can provide you with a free ‘We’re not buying it’ sticker for your front door. Call Consumer Direct on 0845 4040506 and we will post one to you.

If you have internet access, visit our website, www.cambridgeshire.gov.uk/consumer, for news on current issues we are addressing, advice and information.