BBB Logo

Better Business Bureau ®
Start With Trust®
Minnesota and North Dakota
Better Weather is Here; Doorbells will be Ringing
May 22, 2014

With temperatures finally rebounding, solicitors offering asphalt services and magazine subscriptions – among other products and services - will be making the rounds and may well make their way to your front doorstep. Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota ® (BBB) reminds people to stay alert and keep in mind that these sellers are venturing onto your home turf; if you don’t like how a given sales pitch is going, take one step back and close the door.

Though many door-to-door salespeople operate honestly and represent reputable businesses, there are others who are looking only to make a sale and move on as quickly as possible, regardless of whether or not what they’re telling people is accurate or not. BBB recommends the following on how to handle door-to-door solicitors:

Ask for identification. A reputable seller will provide you with all the information you request, including ID and a business card.

Verify the individual and the company. If you are interested in a product or service outlined by a door-to-door solicitor, get everything in writing including price, contract duration and all other terms and conditions. Tell the salesperson you will check it out and get back to him or her. Then research the company yourself and contact them directly to verify the salesperson is an employee. Also, be sure to visit the company’s BBB Business Review at bbb.org.

Inquire about licensing. Have they secured a solicitor’s license from the city they’re doing business in?

Read the contract closely. Make sure you understand all the terms and conditions before signing your name.

Don’t be pressured. Watch out for high-pressure sales tactics and be aware that anything you sign could construe a contract.

Do the Math. Paying $30 to $40 per month for magazine subscriptions may not sound like much, but if the contract runs for two years – or longer – charges can add up quickly. Make sure you have an understanding of what the average subscription costs for any magazine that interests you. Most magazines have detachable postcards inside with the lowest rates available.

Know your rights. The Federal Trade Commission’s Three-Day Cooling-Off Rule gives the customer three days to cancel purchases over $25 that are made in their home or at a location that is not the seller’s permanent place of business. Along with a receipt, salespeople should also include a completed cancellation form that customers can send to the company to cancel the agreement. By law, the company must give customers a refund within 10 days of receiving the cancellation notice.

Listen carefully. Some unscrupulous door-to-door sellers will do everything they can to close the deal immediately, and even make special offers to entice you. Listen to their tone. Are they speaking more loudly as they get deeper into their sales pitch? Are they ignoring you despite your saying that you’re not interested? If so, find a way to end the conversation quickly.

Stand strong. Do not invite unsolicited salespeople into your home. If you do allow a salesperson inside and decide during the presentation that you are not interested in making a purchase, simply ask them to leave. If the salesperson refuses to leave, tell them you will call the police and follow through if they don’t leave immediately.

Steer clear of asphalt firms that say they have leftover asphalt from another job. A classic tactic of less-than-reputable asphalt firms is to tell consumers they have extra asphalt leftover for another job and will perform the work for a minimal cost. Professional asphalt contractors know, with great accuracy, how much paving material is needed to complete a project. They rarely have leftover material. It’s also a good idea to get multiple estimates before choosing any contractor.

Victims of door-to-door solicitors can file a complaint with their Better Business Bureau at bbb.org, as well as with their local law enforcement, and state Attorney General’s offices.

Sign up for our monthly consumer newsletter!