Many door-to-door salespeople are legitimate, but others are looking only to make a sale and move on as quickly as possible. Customers may wonder if they will receive the product or service they have paid for or if they are the victim of a scam.
Better Business Bureau® (BBB) urges people to be on the lookout for problematic sales pitches and to have a plan in place when you hear that knock:
- Ask about licensing. Many cities require door-to-door salespeople to have a peddler or solicitor license. Ask if the salesperson has checked in with the city and gotten proper licensing. If you are not sure if your city requires a permit, call your city offices.
- Check identification. A reputable seller will give you all the information you ask for, including a photo ID and a business card.
- Verify the individual and the company. Tell the salesperson you want to call the company directly. A legitimate salesperson should not have a problem with this. Research the company and contact them to check if the salesperson is an employee. Read the company’s Business Profile and customer reviews at bbb.org.
- Read the contract closely. If you are interested in a product or service, get everything in writing including price, contract details and all other terms and conditions. Tell the salesperson you will check it out and get back to him or her. Make sure you understand all the terms and conditions before signing on the dotted line. Verify the physical address and valid contact information for the company are included.
- Don’t give in to pressure. Watch out for high-pressure sales tactics and be aware that anything you sign could construe a contract.
- Do the Math. Paying $30 to $40 per month for magazine subscriptions may not sound like much, but it can add up. Be wary of automatically renewing subscriptions and make sure you check the average subscription costs for any magazine that interests you. Most magazines have detachable postcards inside with some of the lowest rates available.
- Know your rights. The Federal Trade Commission’s Three-Day Cooling-Off Rule gives the customer three days to cancel purchases over $25 that are made in their home or at a location that is not the seller’s permanent place of business. Along with a receipt, salespeople should also include a completed cancellation form that customers can send to the company to cancel the agreement. By law, the company must give customers a refund within 10 days of receiving the cancellation notice. In Canada, the cooling off period varies by province.
- Stand strong. Be careful about allowing strangers into your home. If you do allow a salesperson inside your home and decide during the presentation that you are not interested in making a purchase, simply ask them to leave. If the salesperson refuses to leave, tell them you will call the police – and follow through if they do not leave immediately.
People who have issues with door-to-door solicitors can file a complaint with BBB at bbb.org, as well as with their local law enforcement.