SAS Fire operated a network of offices throughout England, Scotland and Wales from which it promoted the sale of alarm systems incorporating continuous, remote monitoring and a rapid response service in the event of activation. The company marketed the alarm systems by making unsolicited telephone calls claiming customers had been chosen to receive one of a limited number of alarm systems at a cost of only £1.00.
The cold call would be followed up, usually within 24 hours, by a lengthy home visit by a sales agent. Potential customers were encouraged to buy a monitoring and response package costing up to £6,000 for a 15 year contract in order to obtain the alarm system at the promoted price of £1.00. Customers were pressed to make an immediate purchase at the time of the sales agent’s visit and the alarm system would typically be installed within 48 hours, thereby limiting customers’ ability to exercise their statutory right to cancel the contract within seven days.
Commenting on the case, Stephen Speed, Chief Executive of The Insolvency Service said:
"Our examination of SAS’s trading practices established their customers were, on average, 69 years old and it was this targeting of potentially vulnerable customers that was a matter of particular concern to The Insolvency Service. We found the company’s tactics were typical of those that prey on the elderly. The company used unacceptable methods to gain trust and entry into people’s homes and once inside the conduct of their sales people breached consumer protection law.
"Any other company that uses illegal high pressure sales tactics should be aware that The Insolvency Service can and will investigate, and where appropriate, take action to remove them from the business environment.
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