High-pressure selling

A woman peering around a door looking worried
22 Aug 2019

Have you ever been pressured into buying something you didn’t want or need?

While hard selling like this can happen to anyone, disabled and older people are often the target for sharp selling practices. And our research into sharp selling shows that some companies selling assistive and other specialist products use high-pressure sales techniques. 

These are tactics to get you to make a purchase quickly.

They deny you the chance to think carefully about whether you really want or need that specific product or to compare it with other options. High-pressure sales methods can include forceful or aggressive language and other types of pressure to convince you to buy. Or sales reps may try to befriend you to gain your trust. We found that high-pressure selling of specialist goods mainly took place in people’s homes.

How can you protect yourself from hard selling?

Be aware of high-pressure sales methods

Look out for: 

  • sales reps who behave inappropriately: too forceful – or too friendly 
  • products that don’t suit your abilities and needs 
  • poor demonstration of the product 
  • dramatic price reductions to persuade you to buy 
  • large deposits on goods 
  • restricted consumer rights when products are made to your personal specifications 
  • verbal agreements not written into the final contract 
  • pressurised selling of expensive maintenance contracts 
  • poor after-sales service 

What you can do:

  • Be aware of your emotions – sales reps exploit customers’ fear, greed and vanity. Try to keep a cool head. If you feel confused or worried, don’t make a decision. 
  • Take your time. It’s OK to say you’ll think about it.
  • Do your research before you buy. Read our guides, shop around, check products on Rate it!.
  • Make a list of what you’ll need from a product and don’t let them push you for more. 
  • Have a budget in mind and stick to it. 
  • Don’t settle for verbal agreements. Insist everything they offer is in writing, and get a copy. 
  • If in doubt – say no. 

You can read more about sharp selling of assistive products in our report (2002) (PDF)

Can you get a refund?

Read our consumer rights law guide to find out when you can get your money back on products or services. 

Under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations of 2008 you also have the right to a refund if

  • you were unfairly pressured into buying a product you didn't want 
  • you were misled about the product you bought

More help

High-pressure selling uses many of the same tricks as scammers use. Read our Protect yourself from scams article. 

Citizens Advice has a useful page about what to do if you were pressurised into buying something you don’t want.

For online, phone and doorstep sales, the Consumer Contracts Regulations give you 14 days to cancel goods or services (but check the details to make sure they apply to you).

More information

Sharp selling of assistive products report (2002) (PDF)

Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations (2008)

Citizens Advice

Consumer Contracts Regulations