Thursday, May 7, 2015

Be Wary of Door-to-Door Solicitors

Spring is here and summer is just around the corner, and it's the perfect time to remind our  residents to be very cautious regarding their dealings with door-to-door solicitors, especially those selling magazine subscriptions.

The warm months ahead will continue to make Overland Park an opportunistic location for solicitors to sell their wares or perhaps peddle their scams.

While there are many reputable companies doing business door-to-door in our city, there are still some unscrupulous ones who try to trick or coerce residents into buying things they don’t need or want. A lot of times residents will reluctantly pay for items that they never receive or the items they get are of poor quality.

The Better Business Bureau (BBB) receives numerous complaints each year regarding door-to-door solicitors, so many that in fact that they have put them into their list of top ten scams. The most common complaint the BBB receives involves consumers paying for magazines they never receive. Several consumers allege the sales representative also misled them by claiming to work for a local school or charity fundraiser.

If visited by a door-to-door sales representative, the BBB recommends consumers do 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 buying or putting down a deposit.

Research the company with BBB. Visit www.bbb.orgto view the company’s BBB Business Review to find out more about their marketplace performance. If you have a smart phone, you can download and use the BBB app to access the company’s report while the person is standing at your door, or visit on your mobile device.

Get transaction details 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.” The Federal Trade Commission’s Three-Day Cooling-Off Rule gives consumers three days to cancel 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.

Listen carefully and be aware of high pressure sales tactics. Some unscrupulous door-to-door sellers will put pressure on you to close the deal at that moment. 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.

Stand strong. Do not invite unsolicited salespeople into your home. If you do allow a salesperson inside and decide during the presentation that you are not interested in making a purchase, simply ask him or her to leave. If the salesperson refuses to leave, threaten to call the police, and follow through if they don’t leave immediately.

Victims of fraudulent door-to-door sales can file a complaint with their Better Business Bureau at , local law enforcement, or state Attorney General’s office.

Contractors soliciting business door to door in residential neighborhoods are governed under the provisions of Overland Park Municipal Code Chapter 5.64. The ordinance can be found on the internet at

Here are a few of the specific regulations for Overland Park:

- If you post a “No Solicitors” or “No Trespassers” sign, they can’t attempt to contact you for the purpose of soliciting.

- They can’t attempt contact prior to 10:00 a.m. or after 9:00 p.m. local time, on any day.

- If you ask them to leave the premises, they must do so immediately.

- They can’t make more than one solicitation call to the same premises for any similar goods or contributions within any consecutive fourteen (14) day period.

- If requested, they must provide you with a written receipt for any purchase exceeding $5.00 cash.

- They must truthfully disclose the details of what they are selling or soliciting and they cannot misrepresent the purpose of their call.

No solicitor notices or signs must be posted at the front entrance of your home for the ordinance to be enforced. No soliciting stickers may be purchased at City Hall located at 8500 Santa Fe. Persons ignoring such signs or acting suspicious may be reported to the police department at (913) 895-6300, or if the need for police presence is immediate, by calling 9-1-1.