The number of complaints about door-to-door solicitors, hawking everything from magazines to raw meat, is due to double this year and the Better Business Bureau Better Business Bureau (BBB) wants you to beware.
While many door-to-door salespersons are honest, if annoying, BBB receives complaints from consumers who purchased items like magazines that never arrive, poor quality cosmetics and photography, even bad meat.
This year, the BBB has already logged more than thousand complaints about door-to-door salespeople. At the current pace, complaints should at least double 2011′s 1,300 complaints.
“Unscrupulous marketers sometimes trick consumers into paying hundreds of dollars for items they don’t want or can’t afford,” says Katherine Hutt, spokesperson for the Council of BBBs.
“Often, their presentations are so slick that consumers aren’t even aware that they have actually made a purchase,” Hutt added.
BBB has already received more than 600 complaints in 2012 against companies selling magazines door-to-door. The most common complaint comes from consumers who pay for magazines but never receive them. The scams include sales representative claiming to work for a local school, charity, or fundraiser.
Consumers are also complaining about hucksters selling “discounted” produce or meat products – orders never arrive, or are of low quality. Consumers also frequently complain about cosmetics, photography and cleaning supplies.
BBB says consumers visited by a door-to-door salespeople should:
• Be safe. Ask for identification before you open the door. Do not invite unknown, unsolicited salespeople into your home. Call the police if they won’t go away.
• Be wary of high pressure sales tactics. A trustworthy company will let you take time to think about the purchase and compare prices before taking your money.
• Research the company with BBB. Visit BBB online to check for a company’s BBB Business Review to learn about the salesperson’s performance. The BBB iPhone app allows you to access the company’s report while the salesperson is standing at your door. Also access BBB services from your mobile device at http://m.bbb.org/.
• Get transaction details in writing. Be sure to get a contract and or receipt explaining the details of your purchase and all the terms and conditions that apply.
The Federal Trade Commission’s “Three-Day Cooling-Off Rule” gives you three days to cancel purchases of more than $25, when the purchase is made away from the seller’s place of business. Along with a receipt, the salesperson should also provide a cancellation form that can be sent to the company to cancel the purchase within three days. By law, the company must give consumers a refund within 10 days of receiving the cancellation notice.
• Watch for high pressure sales tactics. Some unscrupulous door-to-door sellers will put pressure on you to close the deal at that moment, and even make special offers to entice you. Listen to their tone. Are they increasing in volume as they speak to you? Are they ignoring you despite saying you are not interested? Find a way to end the conversation quickly to avoid long, drawn-out sales pitches.
Victims of fraudulent door-to-door sales can file a complaint with their Better Business Bureau, with local law enforcement, or the state Attorney General’s office.