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

PHOTO: 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
PHOTO: 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
June 2, 2014

DES MOINES, Iowa - 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 are simply looking for a quick buck.

One red flag is the company that claims to have "extra" materials left over from another job nearby and can do the work right away at minimal cost. Don't fall for it, said Dan Hendrickson, a communications coordinator for the Better Business Bureau, adding that professional contractors estimate the materials they'll need for a project with great accuracy.

"If a company comes to your door and says, 'Hey, we've got a bunch of leftover asphalt,' chances are it's a company that's kind of flying by the seat of their pants, or maybe really doesn't know what they're doing," Hendrickson said. "In many cases like this, we hear from customers who agree to work with them and then come back and say, 'Well, the work is horrible. They charged me way more than they said they would - and now, I don't know how to find them.' "

When dealing with a door-to-door solicitor, Hendrickson said, people always should ask for identification, verify the company and that the individual works for it, and inquire about his or her licensing.

He also cautioned people to be wary of high-pressure sales tactics, particularly in the wake of a storm that brings out bogus roofers and tree-removal companies, explaining that any paperwork that's signed could be construed as a contract.

"Even if they just say, 'Well, this will just kind of get us started to check out your roof,' " he said. "In some cases, we've had complaints where people say, 'Well, now suddenly they're (the contractor) saying it's a contract' - and in some cases, it actually is a contract. So, at that point, then people have a headache on their hands to try and straighten out."

He also reminded people that it is, after all, their house - so if they don't like where the sales pitch is going, they always can take a step back and close the door.

More information is online at bbb.org.

John Michaelson, Public News Service - IA