A warning about cold callers .......

fearful fiona

Registered User
Apr 19, 2007
I suspect we've all come up against this one with our vulnerable loved ones living at home as my parents were until very recently.

In running my parents' affairs for them over the past year since I registered the EPOA, I am discovering that they have been targetted, either over the telephone or via door to door salesmen selling them new electricity/gas supplies. And my parents, in their vulnerability, have signed contracts, given bank account details for direct debits, etc. etc.

I have successfully challenged one supplier and succeeded in having the salesman in question formerly warned by his employers, but I know there are a whole lot more out there. The local trading standards office gave me a supply of stickers to put on my parents' front door discouraging salesmen but this doesn't work too well and also a lot of this sort of business is transacted over the 'phone.

I'm sure we're all aware of dodgy salesmen from businesses such as roofing, plumbing etc., but it is I think appalling that so-called "respectable" energy suppliers are employing these ruthless salesmen.

Another of my "rants", I'm afraid.... although I'm tempted to contact the press, e.g. the Daily Mail "Dignity for the Elderly" campaign...


Registered User
Aug 29, 2006
SW Scotland
I agree, Fiona.

I was targetted by a telecoms company, who cold called to tell me they could give me a better and cheaper package than I was getting from BT. Would I like to receive details? I said I'd be happy to see their offer and would consider it.

The next I heard was a letter from BT saying that they were sorry I was leaving them, and I would be welcome back at any time! I rang BT, and they informed the watchdog.

There is no way I would use the other company, however good their package.


Registered User
Aug 21, 2007
Cold callers


I answered the phone at Dads recently to be told that he'd agreed to have double glazing installed but the company were checking whether it was a private or council home first. As soon as somebody mentions the words cheap, bargain, or reduced rate, he's suckered. It doesn't take some unscrupulous people long to realise that he has no idea what's going on and take full advantage.

I find the council are also amongst the offenders, they promised faithfully that they have a contact the tenant first policy when things needed doing but they ignore their own policies and send various people round to knock on doors to check central heating, do structural surveys, all sorts of things. Repeated requests not to do this fall on very deaf ears.

Dad has already suffered a distraction burglary from people posing as council gas fitters - the police said they also frequently pose as British Gas reps. Luckily they only took money (and with his habit of stashing it they got quite a bit) and didn't knock him around, it could have been a lot worse. Sadly he doesn't remember the experience and still happily lets all and sundry into his house.

I also get annoyed at these 'win a million pounds' flyers in every single magazine, Dad falls for it every time and tries to ring the numbers. Luckily he's very hit and miss when dialling, but I have heard of some elderly people who have ended up in very hard to get out of purchase agreements through these damn things.



Registered User
Feb 17, 2006
I also get annoyed at these 'win a million pounds' flyers in every single magazine, Dad falls for it every time and tries to ring the numbers.
My Daughter when younger did that on my bill when it
first started to come out , when they was not much publicity about it like they is now . Now BT offer a service that , from they end [ not call barring ] stop them ringing those number .

also they offer a service that stop those people ringing the house to try to sell you something , can't remember what it called or how they do it , but they ask me if I wanted it and I said yes
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Registered User
Aug 20, 2006
I would suggest that you register with both the Telephone and Mail Preference services. Although these (as far as I know) do not carry a force in law, and companies sign up to them voluntarily, they will stop many cold calls on the phone and a lot of the junk mail.

Telephone Preference Service


Mail Preference Service


You can also ask British Telecom to block Premium Rate numbers on the phone. If you do this you will not be able to dial Premium Rate numbers, they will just give number unobtainable. Obviously you need to be with BT to do this, they will do it for free.

Most other providers will also do it, but some of them charge a monthly fee.

Most of those "you have won a prize" things require you to call a Premium Rate number.

My dad was always calling them, he always fell for the "you have won a mystery prize!" scams of all kinds. I just asked for BT to block premium rate dialling and after a few goes of not being able to dial he gave up, I would just say "oh well if you can't get through it must have been dodgy then".

He was also terrible at sending off £20 cheques for "prize administration fees". Signing up to the mail service has stopped those. Also those scams where there is "on TV, one DVD player and 20,000 watches" on "offer".

We also try to get to the post first and just keep anything that looks dodgy and shred it when he's asleep. The same goes for those awful catalogues of overpriced tat.

I have heard of devices that you can plug in to your phone line (you plug it into the phone socket, then plug the phone into the device) that limits dialling to pre-stored numbers, a sort of "phone nanny". Can't seem to find one though!


Registered User
Jul 10, 2006
south lanarkshire
Mum and Dad also believed they had checques x for x amount of money, couldn't understand you had to buy a new sofa or suite to use the cheques, wanted to bank them.

Once had a salesman from N----- visit. He had phoned first for an appointment
Mum told us he was a doctor from abroad to see to Dad's legs.
Not knowing what she was talking about, my daughter and I made sure we were present at the visit, but when we had sussed, he was a salesman, we disappeared into the kitchen and left him to the mercies of Mum, obviously listening to make sure he didn't sell her anything. This wasn't really a concern, because anything costing more than 2 shillings, Mum wouldn't buy!!

Another time 2 salesmen from an energy company cold called. Mum and Dad signed, because they were very nice boys!!
When I found out about it, re contract, I phoned the company and read the riot act, because I had POA and any contract would be invalid.
At that time it wouldn't have taken a lot to deduce that my parent's didn't know what they were signing.

I think it is disgraceful that older people who don't have someone to look out for them can be conned, persuaded or whatever, by unscrupulous salespeople who are only out to make commission


Registered User
Jul 19, 2005
My Dad also got hit by Cold callers for electricity/gas he hasn't got denentia but has other medical problems. He got hammered by a few of them. He didn't in the end no which company he was with and ended up paying for two? I contacted the one i am with and they contacted him and also involved me. They also got it all sorted out. He ended up getting his gas/electricity cheaper as well. I and him are staying with them.