BBB Tip: Working in Home Security Sales


Each spring, thousands of young people are recruited for summer jobs selling home security systems door-to-door. And each year, Better Business Bureau receives numerous complaints from consumers who feel that they were pressured into signing a contract. BBB also receives a lot of complaints from consumers about less-than-ethical companies that attempt to get them to switch their alarm service by claiming to be their current provider offering an “upgrade,” or saying the current provider has gone out of business or has been sold to the door-to-door salesperson’s business.

If you are recruited for this industry, don’t work for a company that encourages dishonesty or pressures their salespeople into pressuring customers. Before you agree to fly across the country to knock on doors, consider these tips from BBB:

Do some research first. Google the business and search for complaints, lawsuits, or questionable practices. Check to see what the BBB’s rating is on the business and to read complaints and customer reviews. Pay attention to the business’s response to complaints to see how they treat their customers.

Understand the work. Decide if you really want to be in sales and if you have the right temperament to knock on doors for a majority of the hours of the day – walking from house to house, day after day.

Talk to former employees. Ask to talk to employees who made the promised money and those who weren’t able to make what was advertised. Weigh the pros and cons.

Ask about living arrangements. Make sure that agreements are written into the contract. In many cases, your rent and possibly other expenses will be deducted from your commissions, so ask what your obligations are if you are unable to meet your sales goals.

Ask where you will be sent. Contact that city to ask about their experience with the company you’ll be working for and what requirements they have for door-to-door solicitors. Find out if you need a solicitor’s license, if there are limitations such as hours when you can go door-to-door, etc. Ask what “do not solicit” means if it is on the door (the law usually spells this out), and make sure you have an accurate map so you know what community you are knocking in (so you don’t cross over into an area where you are not licensed).

When you are out in the field:

  • Wear some form of company identification that you can show the consumer.
  • Follow the rules, laws, and regulations of each community, city, county and state/province.
  • Tell the truth. Only make claims that are true and can be substantiated.
  • Honor “do not solicit” signs that are on or by doors.
  • If a consumer asks you to leave their house, do so immediately.
  • If you ever feel afraid or unsafe for any reason, call the police and ask for assistance.

For more information on federal laws on door-to-door sales: In the United States, check out the Federal Trade Commission. In Canada, check out Industry Canada’s Office of Consumer Information.