Durham County Council is issuing advice to residents to help them avoid falling victim to rogue fish sellers.
The council has been made aware of incidents in neighbouring areas in which members of the public have had people cold-calling at their home offering pre-packed fish for sale, in some cases offering to put it directly in their freezer.
The victims have then been either misled on the type of fish they were buying, grossly overcharged or subjected to high pressure sales tactics and sold far more fish than they would normally wish to buy.
On the back of the reports, the council’s consumer protection service has issued the following advice to residents:
– If they are cold-called and do not feel comfortable with the trader’s presence, they should politely ask them to leave.
– Alternatively they should contact a relative, friend or neighbour for advice before buying and close their front door while they do so.
– Residents are advised against allowing the seller into their home in any circumstances.
– If residents are thinking of buying, they should examine the product before paying.
– If the trader looks to charge more than has been agreed, the buyer should cancel the purchase without handing over any form of payment.
– Residents prepared to buy should ask for an itemised receipt that contains the trader’s details, including their name and address. If the trader is not prepared to provide these, residents should not go ahead with the purchase.
Joanne Waller, the council’s head of environment, health and consumer protection, said: “Our general advice would be not to do business on the doorstep with any sellers of goods or services not known to you.
“If problems come to light you may not be able to identify who you have done business with to seek to put things right.”
The consumer protection service has recently given guidance to known mobile fish sellers based in County Durham, advising them of their legal obligations as a business.
The service will also investigate any incidents reported to have taken place in the county.
Residents can contact the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 03454 04 05 06.