Door-to-Door Sales Provides Easy Entry for Scammers, Warns Better Business Bureau
August 19, 2013

CHICAGO, IL – August 8, 2013 – The world has become more digital and consumers are buying and selling more frequently online. However, that does not mean that door-to-door selling is going away.

“Concerns about door-to-door sales abound. From product quality to product delivery there are many issues. History has taught us that door-to-door sales can be questionable because you interact with the salesperson once and never see them again,” explained Steve J. Bernas, president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois.

“The door-to-door sales tactics are meant to be quick and trigger immediate decisions from customers,” he said. “There are honest and fair door-to-door salespeople but some of the tactics used should cause consumers to be extra wary of any promises and commitments.”

Bernas continued to speak about how research and reading the fine print can benefit consumers when it comes to purchasing products, especially from someone who shows up at your door.

“Checking out a business before making a purchase protects consumers and is exactly what the BBB has been advocating for years,” Bernas said. “Consumers can do this by going to bbbit.org

Two of the most common door-to-door sales are magazine subscriptions and contractors:

  • Magazine subscriptions. Magazine sales account for a major portion of the complaints in this category. The most common involves consumers paying for magazines they never receive. Often, consumers say the sales representative misled them by claiming to work for a local school or charity fundraiser.
  • Contractors. Often, people selling these services come into an area that has been hit by a storm or other natural disaster. Residents who are stunned by the damage left behind want to quickly fix the problems, want to quickly fix the damage and return to their previous way of life are the most vulnerable to door-to-door sales tactics. Homeowners should check with their insurance companies and the BBB about any companies offering services.

A door-to-door scam is likely to include some of these signs:

  • Fast talk: the scammer will speak quickly, giving you less time to think about making a wise decision.
  • Engaging: the scammer will make you feel like they are your friend. Don’t fall for this. Most of the time, scammers are just looking to make a sale.
  • Filling out papers immediately: a scammer will begin filling out papers before you have made up your mind, making it hard for you to say no.

Here are some tips when dealing with door-to-door sales:

  • Research the business. Before making any decisions, take the time to research the business. Look them up on bbb.org and make sure they are legitimate.
  • After researching the business, take the time to read all fine print. Do not feel you must rush to look through any information that you have. Read it all and make sure you fully understand. If you don’t understand, ask questions.
  • If you change your mind, act fast. If you spend over $25, the Federal Trade Commission’s “cooling-off rule” gives you three days to cancel for a full refund.

For more information on scams, please visit www.bbbit.org/

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As a private, non-profit organization, the purpose of the Better Business Bureau is to promote an ethical marketplace. BBBs help resolve buyer/seller complaints by means of conciliation, mediation and arbitration. BBBs also review advertising claims, online business practices and charitable organizations. BBBs develop and issue reviews on businesses and nonprofit organizations and encourage people to check out a company or charity before making a purchase or donation.