Courtesy of the Better Business Bureau of East Texas
As soon as the sun comes out and temperatures begin to escalate, BBB begins to receive a surge of inquiries regarding fly by night door to door solicitors who are just looking to make an extra buck. Marketing everything from magazine subscriptions, alarm systems, cleaning supplies, and all types of handyman work, door-to-door salespeople typically hit the pavement from mid-March through the end of September.
Many legitimate companies use door to door sales as a component of their marketing plan, and various city ordinances have been put in place to regulate door-to-door solicitations to protect East Texas residents from unscrupulous individuals. However, BBB cautions residents to be watchful for individuals will try to work their way around the system to line their pockets.
“Springtime means door to door solicitors will begin hitting the pavement”, said Mechele Agbayani Mills, President and CEO of BBB Serving Central East Texas. “Watch out for salespeople who use high pressure sales tactics, arrive in unmarked vehicles, do not have company letterhead or business cards and require cash payment.”
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 any 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 (increased from $25) 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 contractors based 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.
Stand strong. 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.