Why is this important?
Sales and after-sales services – unfair commercial practices
Salespeople can be very persuasive when they're trying to sell you something and most people realise that sales patter is part of the process of buying. Genuine traders also know when you're not interested and are happy to leave you alone.
However some traders won't take 'no' for an answer. They can become aggressive or use tactics to make you buy something you don't really want. Tactics can include emotional blackmail or undue pressure. If a trader does this they are breaking the law.
There are 31 named practices that are banned under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations (2008). The banned practices fall into five main groups including sales and after-sales services. If a trader does something which is banned by these regulations, you can report them to Trading Standards, who may decide to take action against the trader.
This page tells you about what sales and after-sales service practices are specifically banned.
Not allowing you to leave until you've bought something
The trader gives you the impression that you won't be allowed to leave the premises until you've signed a contract or bought something.
A holiday club advertises sales presentations at hotels. During the presentation intimidating doormen are posted at all exits to give you the impression that you can't leave without joining the club.
Aggressive doorstep selling
This is where a trader calls at your home and ignores your request to leave or not to come back
A trader calls at your home and tries to sell you some cleaning products. You say you are not interested and ask them to leave. They are determined to get you to change your mind and continue their sales pitch on the doorstep. If they won't take 'no' for an answer, it's breaking the law.
Pestering you to buy something
A trader makes persistent and unwanted calls to your home, or phones, faxes, emails or texts you to try and get you to buy something.
You're constantly phoned by a window salesperson. You ask to be removed from the company's contact list but they don't do this and call you back several times.
Using emotional blackmail to get you to buy something
It's against the law if a trader tells you that they will lose their job or that their livelihood is at risk if you don't buy something from them.
Asking for payment when you didn't order the product
This is where the trader asks you to either pay for or return goods they've sent to you that you didn't order. It is also called inertia selling.
It's not against the law if the goods are a replacement for something you've already bought in a distance sale. For example, by telephone, internet, or mail order.
Only giving after-sales service in a different language
If you buy a product in the European Union and the trader promises to provide after-sales service but doesn't tell you that it will be provided in a different language, this is against the law.
You buy a product from a trader based in Germany. They agree to provide you with an after-sales service. You have only spoken and written to each other in English. If the trader doesn't tell you that the after-sales service will only be provided in German, this would be against the law.
Giving misleading after-sales information
If you buy a product from another country in the EU and you're not told that there won't be an after-sales service in the country where you're living, this is against the law.
Reporting the problem
If you think a trader may have used aggressive sales techniques or misled you about after-sales service, you can report them to Trading Standards.
Other useful information
Office of Fair Trading
Enquiries and Reporting Centre