Spring has finally arrived, and solicitors offering asphalt services, home repairs and sales of magazine subscriptions – among other products and services – will be making the rounds and may wind up on your doorstep.
Better Business Bureau Serving Wisconsin (BBB) reminds people to be alert and have a plan in place when it comes to door-to-door solicitors.
“Never hire on the spot! Be sure to do your research and check with BBB”, says Jim Temmer, BBB Serving Wisconsin CEO/president. “Unfortunately, we see complaints every year, year after year from regretful homeowners. There are plenty of reputable, local businesses that will deliver their product and services within budget and in a timely manner.”
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.
BBB recommends the following advice 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. Pay close attention to the vehicle they are driving. Is there signage? Is the license plate local? Write this information down.
Verify the individual and the company. If you are interested in a product or service, get everything in writing including price, contract duration and all other terms and conditions as well as the company’s business address, phone, and owner’s name. 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. Check out free BBB Business Reviews at bbb.org.
Inquire about licensing. Does your city require door-to-door salespeople to have a license? If so, have they secured their solicitor’s license? Ask to see it.
Read the contract closely. Get all promises in writing and make sure you understand all the terms and conditions before signing on the dotted line. Never pay with cash.
Don’t be pressured. Watch out for high-pressure sales tactics. Always take time to think about the offer and comparison shop.
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 fast. Make sure you have an idea of what the average subscription costs for any magazine that interests you. Most magazines have detachable postcards inside with some of 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 at 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.
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 from another job and offering to 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.
If you have a complaint against a door-to-door solicitor, file a complaint with BBB at bbb.org as well as with your local police department. Report scams and fraud to BBB Scam Tracker at bbb.org/scamtracker.