Selling Case History

Mr K received a letter from a finance house asking for his help in a market survey on consumer credit. If he filled in a questionnaire he would be sent a modest number of holiday vouchers. He was promised a rather larger number of holiday vouchers if he decided to avail himself of the finance house's advice to restructure his loans. When Mr K looked at the questionnaire he found that it asked for some detailed personal information, such as his income, the nature and amounts of any loans, and his attitude to secured loans and re-mortgages. At the end it asked if a consultant could call round to show Mr K how his monthly outgoings could be considerably reduced if he restructured his loans.

Mr K suspected that he was the target of some slugging' - selling under the guise of market research. When the finance house was approached, they said that they had intended to use the results for market research, not primarily for selling, but if someone had agreed to a visit from a consultant, they would of course pursue the custom. In the opinion of the Advertising Standards Authority, though, the letter was primarily a sales promotion because it was offering an incentive to use the loan advice.

The salesperson is required by law to find out enough about you to enable them to assess your needs and match you to suitable products. But sometimes, identifying a genuine need TIP - s over into encouraging you to invent 'needs' you don't really have - a new car, luxury yacht or exotic holiday, perhaps. The salesperson may try to get you to tell them the minimum you can save regularly, rather than telling you the minimum a savings contract requires - this way they avoid the risk of putting you off with a figure that's too high or settling at a figure that's lower than you'd have been prepared to invest.

The dotted line The salesperson may be very keen to sign you up before they'll leave. Don't be pressured. If you don't want the product, or if you want time to think it over and to look at alternatives, say so. Don't be swayed by talk of deadlines, or unrepeatable terms a hasty financial decision can end up costing you more than a delayed one. But if you do sign during the visit and then want to change your mind, you can. You must be sent a 'cancellation notice' following the visit. This will set out the details of the contract and tell you that you have 14 days (starting from the time you received the notice) in which to cancel the deal without penalty.

TIP - Buying from someone who turns up on your doorstep is unlikely to give you the best deal for your money. The salesperson will often be representing just one company, so they'll be unable to seek out the best deal from the whole market.

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Doorstep Selling

If you don't want to talk to a salesperson who appears on your doorstep, you should politely but firmly say just that and then close the door. But if you're at least interested to hear what they have to say then it will help if you understand something of the techniques they are using and the rights that you have. The points below will guide you through a visit from a salesperson arriving on the doorstep to sell you investments.

Identifying the salesperson At the start of a visit, the salesperson must reveal their name to you and the name of the company they're working for - they should... see: Doorstep Selling

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