Sunshine and warmer temperatures mean door-to-door solicitors have begun hitting the pavement, marketing everything from home security systems, pest control, driveway repair, lawn care, and even charitable organizations. Particularly now that social distancing regulations have eased, BBB reminds consumers to be on the lookout for red flags of a dishonest door-to-door solicitor.
“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,” Mechele Agbayani Mills, President and CEO of BBB Serving Central East Texas said. “They could just be fly by night contractors disguised as salespeople for legitimate organizations.”
If visited by a door-to-door sales representative, BBB recommends the following:
Research the company with BBB. Visit bbb.org to review the company’s BBB Business Profile to find out more about their marketplace performance. Consider customer reviews, complaint history, and overall company history. If it is difficult to find information on the company, consider working with another company.
Deal with local companies. Not only is this beneficial for our local economy, it also helps ensure 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.
Pay with a credit card. Take advantage of the consumer protections provided by using a credit card. Never pay in full (unless the job is completed), and never pay in cash.
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 less than $25 which are made in their home.
Seek at least three bids. Getting several proposals from prospective contractors based on the same specifications, materials and labor needed to complete the project gives you a better idea of what reasonable price is. Homeowners should discuss bids in detail with each contractor and ask questions about variations in pricing. Keep in mind, the lowest-priced contractor may not be the best deal.
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.
It’s also important to note that some cities to require a permit and may have other solicitation regulations regarding door-to-door sales people.
For more tips on how to be a savvy consumer, go to bbb.org. To report fraudulent activity or unscrupulous business practices, call the BBB Hotline: 903-581-8373 or report it via BBB ScamTracker.