Word to the Wise: Door-to-door solicitations and how to handle them

The Better Business Bureau receives thousands of complaints each year from consumers who unknowingly fall for scamming door-to-door solicitors. While many door-to-door salespersons are honest, the BBB receives troubling complaints from consumers who purchased items such as magazines that never came, cosmetics and photography of poor quality, and even meat that was no good. The BBB warns that deceptive door-to-door sellers are looking to make a quick buck, and they’re on the rise.

BBBs across the country are receiving hundreds of complaints and thousands of inquiries about companies selling door-to-door. Sellers often use high pressure sales tactics. Unscrupulous marketers sometimes trick consumers into paying hundreds of dollars for items they don’t want or can’t afford. Oftentimes, their presentations are so slick that 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: BBBs have received more than 800 complaints already in 2015 against companies selling magazines door-to-door. The most common complaint received involves consumers paying for magazines they never receive. Several consumers allege the sales representative misled them by claiming to work for a local school or charity fundraiser.

Food products: Sales representatives knock on doors selling produce or meat products, claiming their prices are much lower than grocery stores. Consumer complaints allege that their orders never arrive or are not of the high quality promised.

Home security systems: The BBB often receives complaints about companies who falsely claim to be working with or for your existing security company. Under the pretense of upgrading your contract, they sign you to a new contract with their company. Then you’re committed to having two companies perform the work of one. And getting double-billed.

If visited by a door-to-door sales representative, the BBB recommends residents do the following:

Be safe. Ask for identification before you open the door. Never invite the solicitor into your home. Remember that you don’t have to answer the door at all, and if you ask the person to leave and they do not they are then trespassing and you should call the police.

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 to view the company’s BBB Business Review to find out more about its performance.

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.

Listen carefully and be aware of high pressure sales tactics.

If you see suspicious sales people canvassing your neighborhood, report it to your local police department’s nonemergency number.

Kelvin Collins is president/CEO of the Better Business Bureau of Central Georgia and the CSRA Inc.