A reader: I have had several door-to-door sales people coming to my home. Most of them have been really pushy about not taking no for an answer. I have offers of magazine subscriptions, alarm systems and bulk meat. Are these people legitimate or are they scam artists?
Action Line: The Better Business Bureau gets calls regularly on all the types of visitors you’ve described. You should check out each offer with the BBB before you do business with them. When the weather warms up, we see an increase in calls and complaints about door-to-door sales activities. There was a time when door-to-door sellers were welcome in our neighborhoods, but that was in a different, safer time. Some cities even have city ordinances banning door-to-door sales. Is your city one of them?
If they are pushy or aggressive, close your door. If it is a service or product you want, get comparative bids from local businesses. Don’t do business right on the spot. If the offer is good today, it should be good tomorrow.
Door-to-door salespeople usually rely on the friendliness of most consumers. They will ask your name and attempt to engage you in conversation about the weather, how nice your home is, the neighborhood, etc. before making their pitch. Frequently, they will use the names they collect as they go through the block to increase their credibility with other neighbors.
Check their licensing if they are required to have one. Contractors offering to do work costing more than$500 must have a contractor’s license. Get references that are at least several months old and call them. And check with the BBB, www.bbb.org or www.cslb.ca.gov to verify their license.
Don’t forget about the three-day cooling off period. The Federal Trade Commission tells us that by law, the seller must tell you about your right to cancel at the time of sale, give you two copies of a cancellation form and a copy of your contract or receipt. Your right to cancel for a full refund extends until midnight of the third business day after the sale. You don’t have to give a reason for canceling your purchase.
There are exceptions, including sales that are:
▪ Under $25 for sales made at your home.
▪ Under $130 for sales made at temporary locations.
▪ Real estate, insurance, or securities.
▪ Vehicles sold at temporary locations, if the seller has at least one permanent place of business.
▪ Arts or crafts sold at fairs or places such as shopping malls, civic centers and schools.
If you cancel your purchase, the seller has 10 days to cancel and return any check you signed or refund all your money and tell you whether any product you still have will be picked up. Within 20 days, the seller must either pick up the items left with you, or reimburse you for mailing expenses.
Finally, don’t be afraid you will offend vendors by not doing business with them. It’s your money, your property and your safety.
Action Line is written by Blair Looney, president and CEO for the Better Business Bureau serving Central California. Send your consumer concerns, questions and problems to Action Line at the Better Business Bureau, 4201 W. Shaw Ave., Suite 107, Fresno, CA 93722 or firstname.lastname@example.org.