Editorial - Is that opportunity knocking?They say opportunity knocks only once. Here’s something to add to that wise adage: Door-to-door scammers will keep knocking as long as there are victims willing to part with their money. The problem is getting worse.
They say opportunity knocks only once.
Here’s something to add to that wise adage: Door-to-door scammers will keep knocking as long as there are victims willing to part with their money.
The problem is getting worse.
According to the Better Business Bureau (BBB), door-to-door selling complaints are projected to double over last year.
The BBB says it receives hundreds of complaints each year from consumers who fall prey to unscrupulous door-to-door solicitors. Common complaints come from consumers who purchased items like magazines, cosmetics of poor quality, and even meat that was no good.
It’s well worth pointing out that there are legitimate sellers out there who work honestly and ethically for their money but the BBB of Minnesota and North Dakota warns that many door-to-door sellers are only looking to make a quick buck, and that can lead to headaches for consumers.
Nationwide this year, the BBB has already received more than a thousand complaints regarding door-to-door magazine sellers and dealers, a number that’s well on its way to nearly doubling last year’s total of 1,300 complaints. Sellers often use high pressure sales tactics that can have anyone falling victim, the BBB notes.
“Unscrupulous marketers sometimes trick consumers into paying hundreds of dollars for items they don’t want or can’t afford,” said Dana Badgerow, president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota. “Sometimes their presentations are so slick, consumers aren’t even aware that they have actually made a purchase.”
The BBB offers these tips on dealing with high pressure, door-to-door sellers:
--Magazine subscriptions. The BBB has already received hundreds of complaints this year against companies selling magazines door-to-door. The most common complaint BBB receives involves consumers paying for magazines they never receive. Several consumers have alleged the sales representative misled them by claiming to work for a local school or charity fundraiser.
--Food products. Sales representatives selling produce or meat products often claim their prices are much lower than grocery stores. Taking time to comparison shop is always a good idea. Consumer complaints against businesses in this industry generally allege that orders never arrived or were not of the high quality originally promised. Other industries employing door-to-door sales tactics that the BBB receives the most complaints about are cosmetics, photography and cleaning supply companies.
If you receive a visit from a door-to-door sales representative, the BBB recommends the following:
--Be safe. Ask for identification before you open the door. Never invite the solicitor into your home.
--Be wary of high pressure sales tactics. A trustworthy company should let you take time to think about the purchase and compare prices before making a purchase or putting down a deposit.
--Research the company with BBB. Visit bbb.org to view the company’s BBB Business Review to find out more about their marketplace performance. If you have a smartphone, you can download and use the BBB app to access the company’s report while the person is standing at your door, or just visit m.bbb.org on your mobile device.
--Get everything in writing. Be sure you receive a contract or receipt explaining the details of your purchase and all the terms and conditions that apply.
--Remember the “Three-Day Cooling-Off Rule.” This gives consumers three days to cancel some purchases of more than $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, the salesperson should always 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.
Victims of fraudulent door-to-door sales can file a complaint with their Better Business Bureau, local law enforcement, or their state Attorney General’s office.