MILWAUKEE (WITI) — The Better Business Bureau Serving Wisconsin reminds consumers that various door-to-door schemes start when the weather gets warmer.
Springtime in Wisconsin is the kick off for door-to-door sales and representatives will soon be ringing doorbells and peddling products and services in neighborhoods throughout the state. The BBB sees complaints every year, on everything from tree trimming and stump removal, to alarm sales and monitoring services. The BBB also receives regular reports of magazine subscription sales, vacuum cleaner and meat sales, home improvement work, and charity donation requests.
One of the most common is asphalt pavers that offer to repave your driveway with “leftover material from a nearby job” or at a special price. If you aren’t careful, you can end up with substandard work or products, or perhaps with nothing at all for your money.
“If someone knocks on your door trying to sell a product or service, or asks for a donation for a charity, do your homework first,” says Ran Hoth, CEO/president. “A legitimate company or charity will not pressure you into making an immediate, on-the-spot decision. Take time to think about the offer and check out the company or organization.”
Sales crews are usually from out of state (“travelers”) and come into communities by the vanload to canvas neighborhoods and sell products, often without appropriate licensing.
In Wisconsin, traveling sales crews are now required to register with the Department of Workforce Development’s Equal Rights Division (DWD-ERD) and secure sales permits for each crew member.
When entering a community, the crew members must have their sales permits stamped by the municipal clerk. Each sales member must carry the permit with them and present it upon request by potential customers or police officers. Ask to see some type of identification as well as proof they are allowed to engage in such sales activity.
The BBB recommends being cautious of a door-to-door salesperson if they:
- Use high pressure sales tactics. A reputable seller will give you time to think through the offer and make an appointment to return at a later date. A dishonest seller will try to get you to sign up immediately and perhaps intimidate you into paying before you have time to do your research. Do not give in to high pressure sales tactics, even if the deal supposedly won’t last long or the salesperson is aggressive. Ask for a business card and make sure it has all the business contact information on it. Tell the seller you will consider the offer, do some research, and comparison shop. It’s worth it to stop and think it over first.
- Offer a deal that sounds too good to be true. Some sellers might offer an extremely good price for their products or services. The adage holds true that you get what you pay for, and many people have been disappointed when the products didn’t live up to the hype or the company did a shoddy job.
- Can’t or won’t provide you with personal identification, selling permits or contact information for their company. Any legitimate salesperson will be able to provide you with positive identification for both themselves and their company. Also beware of sellers who don’t appear to have any ties to the community. Itinerant workers often enter and exit an area quickly, usually with the money of the people they’ve scammed.
- Fail to follow the law. Federal law requires that if you pay more than $25 in goods or services, you have the right to cancel, and the salesperson must inform you of your right to cancel within three business days. Called the “cooling off” rule, these rights should be included with the company’s contact information on the receipt or contract.
The BBB recommends that you further protect yourself by paying with a credit card—rather than cash—in order to take advantage of the consumer protections provided by this method. Pay attention to the vehicle being driven and whether it has identifying information, such as a company name or logo. Does the vehicle have an out of state license plate? Write down the plate number. Report anything suspicious to your local police department. If you have a complaint, contact the Better Business Bureau.