The BBB says do your research before buying a product from someone who comes to your door.
Baltimore, Md (KM) In the past, they used to knock on your door, selling magazine subscriptions and greeting cards. But now door-to-door solicitors sell a wide variety of products, including meat.
The Better Business Bureau of Greater Maryland says while most salespeople who go door-to-door are honest, there are scammers, and some that get extremely pushy. “High, pressure, belligerent at times. They don’t want you to think about it, or do your homework before you make a decision or make a payment,” says Jody Thomas, Vice President of Communications and Marketing for the BBB.
She says a few salespeople go to extremes in order to get you to buy their products or services. “Some have even taken their company’s vehicles and physically blocked homeowners’ driveways so they can’t physically get out of their driveway without really confronting the sales people,” says Thomas.
The BBB says it’s important to do your research on any product you’re interested in buying, and ask for written material from the salesperson. Don’t fall for empty promises. While many solicitors say their product has a 100% satisfaction guarantee, the BBB says there are consumers who say they can’t contact the seller if they have a complaint or a question about the product. And never pay cash for a product. The BBB says use a credit card or check. If you’re dissatisfied, you can always cancel the sale with a credit card company, or issue a stop-payment on the check. If you use cash, you’re at the mercy of the salesperson when it comes to any losses, the BBB says.
The Federal Trade Commission says if you make a purchase from a door-to-door solicitor, you have three business days to cancel it.
If you have questions about purchasing meat from door-to-door solicitors, you can call the US Agriculture Department’s Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-674-6854.
Another type of door-to-door solicitor who shows up during the spring, especially after bad weather, is a stormchaser. That person says they happen to be in the neighborhood and have some left over materials to repair your roof, your driveway or sidewalk. “You want to definitely do your homework. If the company is not licensed or is improperly insured, and there’s problem and there’s an injury on your property, you’re responsible,” says Thomas.
BBB recommends you ask for proof of licensing in your state, as well as insurance and bonding. Make sure to get three or four estimates for the work you want to have done on your home. Check out the company with the BBB (bbb.org), and only deal with reputable companies. The BBB says get a written contract which specifies the price, the work that needs to be done, and brand names and quality of the products being used, as well as a time frame for completion.
Another type of door-to-door scam is from those selling home alarm systems. BBB says they usually look for homes with signs posted in their yards saying they have a security system. The salesperson knocks on the door, and tells the homeowner the security system needs to be upgraded. After a tour of the home, they say the current security system is outdated.
Thomas says contracts with security companies usually extend out over several years. And if you purchase an “upgrade,” you may end up paying for two security systems, especially if you can’t get out of your current contract with your provider. “Unfortunately, if it is a different company, and they’ve made an upgrade and exchanged the equipment that you have, you might be paying double: to the old company that you’re under contract with, and the new company,” she said.
BBB recommends not allowing anyone into your home who claims to be from your alarm company without contacting that company first. Ask a lot of questions; if the salesperson is reluctant to answer, that’s a red flag. The BBB also says don’t be frightened by reports of increased burglaries in your neighborhood, and don’t sign a contract when you’re being pressured to do so. And never sign anything you haven’t read.
The BBB says it received hundreds of complaints against home security companies in 2016. Most dealt with billing and contract issues, and poor installation.
Thomas also says if someone knocks on your door or rings your doorbell, and you look through the window and see it’s someone you don’t know, you do not have to answer the door. If you’ve already said you’re not interested, and the solicitor refuses to leave your property, Thomas says call local police. “If you ask someone to leave your premises, they have to do so,” she says.
If you’ve been ripped off by a door-to-door salesperson, file a complaint with the BBB. And report any unlicensed solicitors or contractors to local and state authorities.
By Kevin McManus