Door to Door Sales Worthy of Caution, Not Alarm

July 12, 2013


BBB Serving the South Plains of WestTexas

3333 66thStreet                   Lubbock, TX          79413


Door To Door Sales Worthy of Caution,Not Alarm

7/10/13                 The Better Business Bureau of the South Plains has fielded a number of calls concerning door-to-door salesmen hawking alarm systems and security packages through the Plainview Branch Office. 


“Some area residents have been concerned, others have been put off by the inconvenience of having to drop what they’re doing to answer the door,” says Bob Manista, BBB Plainview Office Manager.  “Whether or not the two or three alarm companies that have had salesmen canvassing the streets have singled out senior homes is unclear – they certainly could be knocking on doors at random regardless of who answers the door and happen to bump into a senior citizen as they go.”


Plainview seniors (and, notably, their adult children) have contacted the local BBB office.  “One lady I spoke with asked me not to take down her name, because she was worried that her father would thinkshe was being paranoid or making waves, but she was concerned about unknown salesmen from out of town wandering neighborhoods and soliciting seniors,”Manista goes on.  “The Better Business Bureau is always pleased to take calls from concerned children checking on the sales calls their parents have received. It shows a good level of protection and involvement when sons and daughters take an interest like that, and maybe have an opportunity to pick upon some details about the offers that their parents may have missed.”  Contacting the BBB is also a good way to check out the practices of the companies soliciting in our neighborhoods.  BBB offices across North America are networked to check reports no matter where the company’s home office is located.


“In this instance,” Manista says, “the reports we have on the three major companies working in Plainview aren’t perfect, and while they may have good records for providing the services they provide, some of them have had issues about the sales presentations they make at the door. Typically, the complainants have stated that the actual contract terms don’t match what the salesperson said at the door, or the sales presentation may have been misunderstood.  Folks need to be very careful to listen to the details and compare them to the written agreement.  Most of the time, the written contract will supersede any spoken word. It’s also typical in this sort of in-home presentation for there to be disagreements between the homeowner and the salesperson concerning free offers.  A salesman may say that the company is offering free installation or some other single product or service at no charge that, unless the customer is listening very carefully, could sound like the service or hardware itself is free when that may not the case.”  Is the presentation designed to be confusing?  Alarm companies maintain all sorts of back-up plans to assure everyone that their sales are clean and the contract is triple-checked before the sale, but complainants to the BBB routinely raise issues denying that they were aware of the fine print of the contracts even when the companies have recordings of homeowners agreeing to every charge and monthly fee.

“No ones should feel pressured into signing a contract in their own home,” Manista says,“or feel that they haven’t been given fair time to review the sales agreement and the terms of the deal.  If you’re feeling uncomfortable, tell the salesman you need more time to decide and agree on another day for him to return.”  Any salesman likes signing the contract on the first call, but you shouldn’t be fooled by “Discount Today Only!” sales or other claims that you need to sign the paperwork before you carefully review it – with help, if necessary.  “Any company worth its salt wants its customers to be satisfied before, during and after the sale and is okay if you need time to think about it.”


By the way,it’s a legal requirement in Plainview that door-to-door sales like these be registered with City Hall.  Feel free to check a salesperson’s status before you even open the door by checking to see the sales license.