As summer begins and temperatures rise, often so do the tempers of angry consumers who fall victim to summer door-to-door salesmen. While many door-to-door salesmen are honest, every summer the Better Business Bureau receives troubling complaints from consumers who made purchases on their doorstep and were dissatisfied with the quality of product received, if they receive anything at all.
Some of the most common scams come from salesmen selling meat, magazines, alarm systems, asphalt, or offers of physical labor on homes.
While the low price of these products and services can be luring to your financial taste buds, it’s important for consumers to do their research prior to indulging in an impulse buy. The BBB offers the following advice before making a purchase at your front door:
Do your research. Ask the salesperson for written material about the company and let them know you are going to research them first before doing business with them. Check the company’s Reliability Report with your BBB. Many communities have licensing and permit requirements for food vendors and for selling door-to-door; confirm with your city or county government that the seller is in line with the law.
Don’t fall for empty promises. The seller might claim to offer a 100 percent satisfaction guarantee, but many complainants had no way to contact the seller if they were dissatisfied. Additionally, the seller might claim that the product is a higher grade than it really is.
Never pay with cash. When paying by check or credit card you have at least some way to protect your money - such as canceling the check or reporting it as fraud to your credit card company. If you pay with cash and are dissatisfied, you’re at the mercy of the salesperson. Many scam artists will take your check to the bank right away, making credit cards a safer bet.
Know your rights. If you decide to make a purchase in your home, ask for a dated cancellation form and a dated receipt. The Federal Trade Commission Cooling-Off Rule gives you three business days to cancel the purchase. Saturday is considered a business day.
Report the bad guys. If you feel that you were ripped off by a door-to-door salesperson, file a complaint with your Better Business Bureau and contact authorities. Chances are, one of your neighbors could be scammed, too. Also report any unlicensed salesmen to the appropriate city or county authorities.
For more advice to help you make smart purchasing decisions, visit www.bbb.org/us/consumer-tips-product-purchasing/ or call 1-800-388-2222.