Better Business Bureau of Upstate New York receivesthousands of complaints each year from consumers who unknowingly fall forscamming door-to-door solicitors. While many door-to-door salespersons arehonest, BBB receives troubling complaints from consumers who purchaseditems like magazines that never came, cosmetics of poor quality, even meat thatwas no good. BBB warns that deceptive door-to-door sellers are looking to makea quick buck …and they’re on the rise.
In 2012, BBB has already received more than a thousandcomplaints nationally about door-to-door magazine sellers and dealers, a numberthat’s well on its way to nearly doubling last year’s 1,300 complaints, with hundredsof consumer inquires locally. Sellers often use high pressure sales tactics that canhave anyone falling victim.
“Summer weather is winding down but a few deceitfulneighborhood marketers will still be working to fit in more business,” says Warren Clark, President of BetterBusiness Bureau. “Oftentimes, their presentationsare so slick that consumers aren’t even aware that they have actually made apurchase.”
Industries thatappear most on the BBB complaint radar are:
Magazinesubscriptions:BBB has already received more than 600 complaints in 2012 against companiesselling magazines door-to-door. The most common complaint BBB receives involvesconsumers paying for magazines they never receive. Several consumers allege thesales representative misled them by claiming to work for a local school orcharity fundraiser.
Foodproducts: Salesrepresentatives knock on doors selling produce or meat products, claiming theirprices are much lower than grocery stores. So far in 2012, BBB has received 25complaints against companies selling meat products door-to-door. Consumercomplaints to BBB allege that their orders never arrive, or are not of the highquality originally promised.
Home Improvements: Roofing, siding, paint, concrete repair.You name it – and they claim they can do it. There are several versions of homeimprovement scams and some door knockers claim they’re working for well knownstores like Home Depot or Lowe’s. Home owners need to beware and check out thestory and the company before they do business. Convenience does not alwaystranslate into a good opportunity.
Otherindustries employing door-to-door sales tactics that BBB receives the mostcomplaints about are cosmetics, photography and cleaning supply companies.
If visited by a door-to-door salesrepresentative, BBB recommends consumers do the following:
Besafe. Ask foridentification before you open the door. Never invite the solicitor into yourhome.
Verify the individual and company. Visit bbb.org to view thecompany’s BBB Business Review to find out more about their marketplaceperformance. If you have a smart phone, you can download and use the BBB app toaccess the company’s report while the person is standing at your door, or visitm.bbb.org on your mobile device.
Gettransaction details in writing. Be sure you receive a contract or receipt explainingthe details of your purchase and all the terms and conditions that apply.
Never pay with cash. When paying bycheck or credit card you have some protection of your money (canceling yourcard, reporting fraud etc.) If you paywith cash and are dissatisfied, you’re at the mercy of the salesperson.
Knowyour rights. TheFederal Trade Commission’s Three-Day Cooling-off Rule gives consumers three days to cancel purchases of morethan $25 that are made in their home or at a location that is not the seller’spermanent place of business.
Listencarefully and be aware of high pressure sales tactics. Some unscrupulous door-to-doorsellers will put pressure on you to close the deal at that moment, and evenmake special offers to entice you. Listen to their tone. Are they increasing involume as they speak to you? Are they ignoring you despite saying you are notinterested? Find a way to end the conversation quickly to avoid long, drawn-outsales pitches.
Standstrong. Do notinvite unsolicited salespeople into your home. If you do allow a salespersoninside and decide during the presentation that you are not interested in makinga purchase, simply ask him or her to leave. If the salesperson refuses toleave, threaten to call the police, and follow through if they don’t leaveimmediately.
Report the bad guys. If youfeel that you were ripped off by a door-to-door salesperson, file a complaintwith Better Business Bureau at bbb.org. Also report any unlicensed salesperson to theappropriate city or county authorities and the New York state Attorney General’s office.