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Last Updated: Wednesday, 23 April, 2003, 01:43 GMT 02:43 UK
Cold-calling 'led to death threats'
House
Some unscrupulous workmen prey on vulnerable homeowners

The Trading Standards Institute estimates 2.4 million people have had bad experiences with cold callers. Samantha Goffin, of Sevenoaks in Kent, tells of her terrifying ordeal.

Mrs Goffin was home on maternity leave with a toddler and a three-week-old baby when a group of workmen knocked on her door.

Saying they worked for a company that was laying tarmac on the nearby A21, they offered her the chance to get her driveway, which was in poor condition, re-sealed.

The price of 3 per square metre instead of 35 per square metre sounded like a bargain to Mrs Goffin.

As the workmen looked authentic - "they had hard hats on, they were wearing name tags, their trucks had flashing lights" - she agreed and the work was completed an hour or so later.

I was terrified, the doors were bolted, I couldn't go outside
Samantha Goffin

Then the workers demanded 4,500.

"I didn't have that much money, so they said they would charge 4,000 if I had cash.

"I was told to get as much cash as possible and they would be back in an hour," Mrs Goffin, 35, said.

She was able to get 800 in cash and gave them a cheque for the remainder, but realised she had been conned when her husband returned and measured the driveway, which was considerably smaller than the workmen had billed for.

Mrs Goffin stopped the cheque immediately and wrote to the company, asking them to return to tidy up the work and renegotiate the price.

Police surveillance

Deaths threats began soon after.

"One week later two men came back and demanded the money. I had two crying babies on my hands, so gave them my husband's mobile," Mrs Goffin said.

"They threatened him, saying he wouldn't see his wife and children again, saying they would cut him into little pieces and get five pints of blood out of him."

Among other threats were that they would do 10,000 worth of damage to the house, injure her husband and make her life hell, Mrs Goffin said.

After another demand for 2,000 was made with the promise that they would come to the house to collect, the Goffins called the police. But the workmen never showed up again.

The Goffins now have a police surveillance camera at their house because of the death threats.

Mrs Goffin has lived for six weeks in terror that the workmen would return and harm her family.

"It gets better each day, but initially I didn't sleep for about four nights. I was terrified, the doors were bolted, I couldn't go outside, I'm so worried about the children and my husband.

"Whenever I turned my back to put my children in the car, I was afraid someone would be standing behind me."

Her advice to people approached by cold callers is to get a contract first, and wait at least a week before getting work done.




SEE ALSO:
Cold-calling ban urged
23 Apr 03  |  Business
'Just say no' to doorstep traders
12 Nov 02  |  Business
Warning over doorstep salesmen
04 Sep 02  |  Business


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