Taking Action: Soliciting in Huntsville

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – Summer is a prime time for door-to-door solicitation. In Huntsville, solicitors have to be approved for a permit and they’re required to wear a badge.

But people who live in some areas of Huntsville may have noticed one questionable man stumbling through their neighborhood selling DVD’s recently. The man was wearing a ‘City of Huntsville Master Solicitor’ badge. However, he’s not an employee.

On Wednesday, the man approached me at my own home, and tried to sell me a ‘Native American Artifacts’ DVD. Some of you may have had the same experience, maybe even with this same man. He was a little unkempt and not very steady on his feet.

However, he was wearing an approved badge proving he’s allowed to sell his merchandise door-to-door.

I wondered about the process of obtaining one of those badges, and found out it’s not easy for the city to take it away.

A 2012 Huntsville city ordinance mandates solicitors need to have a permit and badge. They also need to be approved for both.

Sgt. Mark Roberts works closely with that ordinance. He said, “if any of these solicitors are actually convicted of violating this ordinance, we will pull their license from them. And that’s been done before in the City of Huntsville.”

Matthew Hill is a solicitor and has a permit. He also has an extensive arrest record. Hill has had 27 run-ins with the law since November, 2005.
The most recent arrest was on Tuesday, when police charged him with public intoxication, doing business without a license, and resisting arrest. He was out of jail Wednesday morning, and showed up at my door step around 1:00 that same day.

But those misdemeanors aren’t enough for the city or police to legally revoke a permit. Sgt. Roberts said it usually takes a felony charge.

“Felonies are mostly what it is, but there’s a list of disqualifying factors. So, they are required to acknowledge if they’ve been arrested for any of those disqualifying charges.”

It’s basically a trust factor.  Hill hasn’t done anything that goes against the ordinance, he just has multiple public intoxication convictions, according to court documents.

But, the same city ordinance that permits solicitation also offers a solution to unwanted porch guests. Sgt. Roberts says there’s a few guidelines they have to follow.

  • Solicitation hours are 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
  •  Sellers can’t be deceptive in their practices, they do not work for the City of Huntsville.
  •  If there’s a ‘no solicitation’ sign in plain sight, then no one can legally approach your home without your consent.

“If you put a ‘no solicitation’ sign on your door, then basically, no one is allowed to knock on your door and solicit,” Sgt. Roberts said.

It can even be homemade. To avoid solicitors to begin with, just simply take a piece of paper or a piece of cardboard, write ‘no soliciting’ in big letters, then put it up in your window. It’s illegal for a solicitor to even come on your property.

If a solicitor still approaches your home, call police. If a solicitor makes physical contact, call police. If they follow you into your home and you don’t want them there, call police!

The  2012 ordinance states, if a person meets any of the following factors, they are disqualified from obtaining a city solicitation permit. If a person has been criminally convicted or has criminal charges pending for:

  • Homicide or manslaughter.
  • Abusing or exploiting a minor.
  • Selling or distributing controlled substances.
  • Sexual assault
  • Theft, robbery, burglary or assault.

Another big one, they can not obtain a license or a badge if they have been convicted of a felony, not a misdemeanor, in the last ten years.

 

 

9 comments

  • Nuclear Mike

    Similar man came to our door trying to literally push his “book” into my hands for $$$…he had no badge, but had a city permit paper that he showed me when I asked for his badge.
    I call HPD each & every time a solicitor comes knocking at our door because not one has had the required badge from the City. The gypsies dropped off attractive younger foreign women last year in the neighborhood trying to get past the front door to determine if I needed my carpets “cleaned”…appeared to be scouting our street for later and intending to use sex to entice.
    Then the “Church” people come endlessly each weekend trying to recruit new members.
    The only remedy is to call HPD each time and guess what, their “ride” quickly comes by and they depart the neighborhood before the Police can arrive. Take a pic of their license plate and watch how unhappy they become!

  • Brainst0rms

    I have a fence surrounding my house. Is it ok if no solicitations sign on the fence? Or do they get to irritate my Dobeermans by coming into the yard to read a sign on the door?

    • Justin

      Your sign can be posted at the entrance onto your property. (sidewalk/driveway)
      My concern is… Someone can get a permit/license to solicite and not a have a business license? Wake up Huntville! My opinion is that his master badge should be revoked due to conducting business without a license.

  • Nuclear Mike

    HEY speaking of crime on the streets of Downtown Huntsville!!!
    Where is the story of the Downtown Huntsville vandal attack last night at 0330AM this morning??? How much damage was done at the Belk Hudson Lobby area? How many hurt? How many arrested????
    What is going on in Downtown for these attacks to happen???

      • Nuclear Mike

        Soliciting door-to-door has been going on in the neighborhoods forever and the Neighborhood Watches have been calling in all the unwanted, unlicensed and un-permitted individuals. From “church groups” to the gypsies who drop off their attractive young girls to entice the unwary into gaining access to the houses…these “solicitors” cannot be stopped from their antic’s of trying to fleece money from all of us.
        When there is an attack by vandals upon the newest Downtown high rent apartments with damages, possible injuries and some arrests it is ignored by the Media to keep Downtown’s re-branded image “perfect”.

  • Abbie

    Where can I find this information for Morgan County? Will this be sufficient to keep religious organization from my door or are they exemot?

  • Mary

    There is a “No Soliciting” sign posted at the entrance to our housing community and we still get solicitors. When I tell them that sign is posted in plain sight, they tell me they have a permit. HOA’s usually do not allow individual signs and one is posted at entrances for the entire housing community. Permitted solicitors fail to realize this and they should be told upon getting their permit.

  • Jeanne

    I’ve convinced my husband that it is too dangerous to politely let a stranger enter our home who is selling something or collecting money for a charity (supposedly). We keep a firm grip on the door and tell them we are not interested and shut it firmly. The last guy here was selling meat, of all things. I plan to try the sign nd if that doesn’t work, I’ll just not
    Open the door at all. .

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