With temperatures on the rise, so are door-to-door salespeople marketing everything from magazine subscriptions, alarm systems, cleaning supplies and all types of handyman work. They typically hit the pavement from mid-April through the end of September, and while many reputable companies do utilize door-to-door solicitations as a marketing tool, be on the lookout for offers that sound too good to be true or salespeople using high pressure sales practices.
Common complaints regarding door-to-door sales include purchased items not arriving by the promised date or failing to arrive at all, difficulty contacting the salesperson or company after the purchase or work is completed and difficulties with cancellation or refund requests. Don’t do business with any salesperson who uses high pressure sales tactics, arrive in unmarked vehicles, do not have company letterhead or business cards and require cash payment. Here’s more on how to deal with door-to-door solicitations:
- Verify all information.After requesting to see identification from a salesperson, directly contact the company they claim to represent for verification. Only use known contact information for the company, and never confirm through a phone number provided by the solicitor.
- Some municipalities require D2D salespeople to have a permit to sell. If this is true of your city, be sure to ask for their permit before committing to anything.
- Research the company.Visit org to review information contained in its BBB Business Review, including complaint history and BBB rating. Keep in mind that even if a salesperson has taken the required steps to obtain any necessary solicitation permits for your area, this does not automatically mean that they can be trusted or that they meet any additional industry licensing or registration requirements.
- Buy local, not only to help the local economy, but to assure that the company is accessible should you need them to return to fulfill a warranty or any other reasons.
- Seek at least three bids from prospective contractorsbased on the same specifications, materials and labor needed to complete the project. Homeowners should discuss bids in detail with each contractor and ask questions about variations in pricing. The lowest-priced contractor may not be the best.
- Get everything in writing.Obtain all verbal promises in a written contract, including payment terms, any warranties or refund/return policies and start and completion dates for projects. Never sign a contract that contains blank spaces, and request a copy of the contract at the time of signing.
- Protect your identity.Some scammers have been known to allege representation of consumers’ current utility service providers, banks or credit card companies in order to appear legitimate. These dishonest “salespeople” will request account numbers and other personal information to supposedly verify your account, determine eligibility for upgrades or even prevent service from being shut-off. Keep in mind that if you are already associated with a company, they should have access to this information and not need to see a copy of your bill or latest statement.
- Pay with a credit card.Payment by credit card, rather than cash, check or wire transfer is the safest method for you to conduct a financial transaction since certain consumer protections are provided. Request a receipt that documents any payments and keep it in a safe place.
- Know your rights. The Federal Trade Commission’sThree-Day Cooling-Off Rule gives consumers three days to cancel purchases of more than $25 that are made in their home or at a location that is not the seller’s permanent place of business. By law, the company must give consumers a refund within 10 days of receiving the cancellation notice.
- Stand strong.Be wary of high-pressure sales tactics. A trustworthy company should allow you time to think about the purchase and compare prices before requiring payment and/or signing of a contract. Some door-to-door salespeople will put pressure on you to close the deal at that moment, and even make special offers to entice you. If you find yourself in this position, don’t be afraid to end the conversation quickly.
It’s always your right to say “No!”; to not let a stranger into your home no matter what their story; to ask for information in writing to consider a sales solicitation before making a purchase decision. If you feel threatened or unsafe as a result of any door-to-door sales experience, report the incident to local law enforcement and file a complaint with BBB. Source: BBB.org.