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Smart Consumer: Is a pushy seller causing you hassle? Show them the door

Electricity and gas, phone and TV -- three big areas of expenditure in all our lives and ones that we'd be wise to keep our eyes on in terms of switching to get a better deal.

The suppliers of these services know this, which is why if you haven't already, you're likely some time soon to get a knock on the door from one of them asking you to sign up with them.

But according to new National Consumer Agency (NCA) research, one in five consumers who experienced the doorstep sell felt pressured into signing up there and then.

Don't let that happen to you. Remember it's your doorstep and your time.

You don't have to talk to them; you don't have to take their information. Or if you are interested, collect the information but take the time to have a think about it.

Whether it's a service provider, someone trying to flog a product or a handyman looking to fix your roof, you have certain rights when it comes to buying at the door.

Knowing these will ensure you don't ever feel under pressure.

•Ask for identification so you know exactly who you are dealing with. There are bogus callers out there, so if you are not satisfied with the ID, close your door.

•Make sure you actually want to purchase and before you commit do your research and check with other companies to see if you can get a better deal.

Remember, you are never under an obligation to buy there and then.

•Ask for clear information in writing about the deal so you have information to take away and read.

In the NCA survey only 39% received written information before signing up, but that's a bad idea as you may not know exactly what you are signing up for.

•If you do sign up, remember to get a copy of the contract. If you're getting work done on your home, get the quote in writing, detailing the work to be done and all the costs. If you do have a complaint later it will be easier if you have all the details in writing.

•Remember you have the same rights as if you were buying in a shop.

If the product or service isn't as described or doesn't do what it is supposed to do, you are entitled to a remedy; either a repair, replacement or refund.

•Exercise your right to withdraw. If you buy or sign up to a contract for more than €50 from an unsolicited seller at the door and then change your mind, don't despair.

You have at least seven days to opt out and get a full refund.

•Ask for a cancellation form and cancellation notice if you aren't given one.

Despite the fact that you should be given one, in the NCA survey only 29% of respondents who experienced door-to-door selling received this form.

The notice should include information on the name and address of the trader, who the cancellation form should be sent to, that you have the right to cancel and the date on which this notice was given to you.

•The salesperson has to act in good faith, cannot mislead you about the product or service and can't harass or coerce you into buying.

This is actually what the law says, so remember that you have it on your side if you start to feel pressurised.

Useful website Go to www.consumerconnect.ie for information on your rights and for tips on doorstep selling.

Irish Independent