Complaints reveal deceptive sales pitches.
The Better Business Bureau of Greater Maryland is asking citizens to be wary of door-to-door solicitors. "Door to door sales can be one of the most convenience ways to learn about new products and services, particularly anything for your home, and it can be the most annoying," says Angie Barnett, President and CEO of the BBB.
She says some of the door-to-door solicitors can be young adults who are earning money for college, or trying to earn points in order to get a prize. They can also claim to be former military members whose only source of income is selling, and they may even have a military ID.
The BBB says some of these individuals use high pressure sales tactics, trying to get consumers to make a quick decision on the spot on a product or service, rather than thinking it over. Another complaint is the product that the solicitor sold customers doesn't come, and the sales people already have their money. The BBB says it has resolved about a dozen cases like this in 2013, but there probably others still out there.
Door-to-door solicitors usually sell anything from vacuum cleaners to magazine subscriptions. Barnett says there those who sell alarm systems for the home, and prey on senior citizens or low income families. "And they do that by generating fear: a sense of urgency that my life is in danger, don't want to protect my children so I don't have a security system," she says.
The Federal Trade Commission has a "Cooling Off Rule," which gives buyers three days to cancel purchases over $25 that are made in a location that is not a place of business, i.e. a home. But Barnett says some door-to-door solicitors will try to get consumers to waive that right. "I've seen some home contractors that will actually turn around and say 'if you waive the right to rescind this, I'll give another 10% discount.' So they're buying their way out of your right to change your mind. If you sign a contract in your home, you actually can change your mind within three days if it's greater than a $25 value," she says.
Anyone who has a complaint about door-to-door sales can contact the Maryland Attorney General's Office.
The BBB says if a door-to-door sales person knocks on your door, don't invite that individual into your home if you're not interested in the product or service they're selling, no matter how politely they ask. If you are interested in the product or service, listen very carefully to the sales pitch. Ask them to explain slowly and in great detail. The BBB says never feel pressured to buy or sign a contract because if you end up getting scammed, there's no guarantee you'll get any sort of refund.
If you make a purchase or conduct any other type of transaction, always get a receipt, says the BBB.