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Summer Solicitors: What to Watch for with Door-to-Door

Posted On June 02, 2014

By Mary Kuhlman, Indiana News Service

Many door-to-door salespeople represent reputable businesses, but consumer experts warn that others will say about anything to make a sale, whether it's accurate or not.  Photo credit: Elvert Barnes/Flickr

Many door-to-door salespeople represent reputable businesses, but consumer experts warn that others will say about anything to make a sale, whether it’s accurate or not.
Photo credit: Elvert Barnes/Flickr

(Indianapolis, Ind.) – With the warmer weather that comes along with summer, so do the door-to-door solicitors. While many operate fairly and honestly, there are ways to spot those who simply are looking for a quick buck.

Tim Maniscalo, president and chief executive of the Better Business Bureau of Central Indiana, said homeowners should watch for cash-only offers, or solicitors who ask for the entire payment up front, or those who offer discounts to recommend other customers. He said people always should ask for identification and never allow a salesperson inside their homes.

“They may be up to something other than just selling you something,” he said. “There are people who use the whole door-to-door sales pitch as a way to check out your home, and they might come back later and try to break in your home or steal, something like that.”

Another red flag is the company that says it has materials “left over from a job down the street” and offers to do the work right away, or at minimal cost. Maniscalo said professional contractors accurately estimate their material needs for projects, so the on-the-spot offers could be coming from people who don’t really know what they’re doing.

Maniscalo reminded people that it’s OK to be firm about saying “no.”

“There does come a time when you’ve got to just shut the door and just say, ‘Hey, I told you that I’m not interested in what it is that you’re selling’ – and shut the door,” he said. “Even though it might seem rude, there does come a time when that’s the appropriate thing to do.”

Reputable companies will be willing to put bids in writing or leave information with people to contact them in the future, he said.

Under Indiana’s Home Solicitation Act, consumers have three days to cancel any purchase of more than $25 that is made at their home or a location other than the seller’s place of business.

More Information from the Better Business Bureau is online at bbb.org.