Of Dogs and Door-to-Door Sales Scams

census worker 150x150 Of Dogs and Door to Door Sales ScamsAs a kid I once saw a commercial where an elderly woman listens to a salesman through a barely-open door. He is very high-pressure.

“Well, I don’t know,” she finally says. “I have to check with Brutus.”

The salesman scoffs: “You mean to tell me you can’t make a decision without your husband’s permission? Come on, lady.”

The woman open the door wider to reveal an enormous German Shepherd baring his teeth. “Oh, Brutus is not my husband,” she says sweetly.

Every year the BBB receives complaints about people selling magazines, frozen food, home security systems, etc. door-to-door. Some of them are legitimate, but many are not.

For example, in the home security industry: The BBB often receives complaints about companies who falsely claim to be working with or for your existing security company. Under the pretense of upgrading your contract, they sign you to a new contract with their company. Now you’re committed to having two companies perform the work of one. And getting double-billed.

Another scheme is for them to tell you (untruthfully) that your old company has gone out of business.

What to Do:
First, know that a legitimate salesperson will not mind waiting or coming back later. Tell them you have to check your original contract before signing anything. Call the company they claim to be with. You should also:

1) Look up the company at www.bbb.org

2) Get contact information from the salesperson, including the company’s legal name, address, telephone number and licensing information

3) If anything strikes you as fishy, call your local police department and

4) Always read all contracts carefully before signing

Most door-to-door sales fall under the three-day cooling-off rule from the Federal Trade Commission. If you feel you were misled or deceived into signing a contract, file a complaint with the BBB or the FTC. To learn more about the cooling-off rule, contact the FTC at (877) 382-4357.

Previously published in the Spokane Spokesman-Review.

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About Holly Doering

Holly Doering has worked for the Better Business Bureau Serving Eastern Washington, North Idaho, and Montana for half a decade. Her areas of expertise include the CORE Values Program (Character, Optimism, Respect, Ethics) for Teens and Charity Review as well as writing and editing. Prior to that, she has written for two newspapers, a local magazine, and taught English at the community college. She is the proud author of a short story in ZYZZYVA literary magazine and has had good luck publishing lots of poetry. Each year she rolls up her sleeves and wades into the autumn Nanowrimo writing madness and has several unfinished novels to her credit.