Sunshine and warmer temperatures means it’s the time of year for door to door solicitors to hit the pavement. Likewise, BBB begins to receive a surge of inquiries regarding door-to-door solicitors in the area. Marketing everything from magazine subscriptions, alarm systems, cleaning supplies, all types of handyman work, and even charitable organizations, door-to-door salespeople typically hit the pavement through the end of September.
“Many legitimate companies use door to door sales as a component of their marketing plan”, said Mechele Agbayani Mills, President and CEO of BBB Serving Central East Texas. “However, be watchful for unscrupulous individuals who may want nothing more than to line their pockets.”
BBB advises consumers to refrain from doing business with those who use high pressure sales tactics, arrive in unmarked vehicles, do not have company letterhead or business cards and require cash payment. Beware of fly by night contractors and fast talkers who are just looking to make an extra buck.
If visited by a door-to-door sales representative, BBB recommends consumers do the following:
Research the company with BBB. Visit bbb.org to view the company’s BBB Business Review to find out more about their marketplace performance. If it’s difficult to find information on the company, consider working with another company.
Deal with local companies, not only to help the local economy, but also so that the company is accessible should you need them to return to fulfill a warranty or for other reasons.
Read and understand the contract before signing. Get transaction details, including verbal promises in writing. Include start and completion dates in the contract. Never sign any contract that has blank spaces.
Further protect yourself by paying with a credit card—rather than cash—in order to take advantage of the consumer protections provided.
Remember the “Three-Day Cooling-Off Rule.” The Federal Trade Commission’s Three-Day Cooling-Off Rule gives consumers three days to cancel purchases of more than $130 that are made in their home or at a location that is not the seller’s permanent place of business. Always get a receipt. By law, the company must give consumers a refund within 10 days of receiving the cancellation notice.
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.
Be wary of high pressure sales tactics. A reputable seller will give you time to think through the deal and make an appointment to return at a later date. If they don’t want you do any research on them or their product or service, you may want to spend your money elsewhere.
Be Safe. Never invite anyone you don’t know into your home, particularly after dark. If the salesperson refuses to leave and/or if you feel threatened, call the police immediately.
For more tips on how to be a savvy consumer, go to www.bbb.org. To report a fraud or scam, call the BBB Hotline: (903) 581-8373.