Summer means more door-to-door sales; beware

  • Posted: Monday, June 10, 2013 11:36 a.m.
    UPDATED: Monday, June 10, 2013 11:37 a.m.

Knock. Knock. The end of school marks the unofficial kickoff of door-to-door sales.

Summer is the high season for door-to-door sales of everything from magazines to meat, alarm monitoring services to driveway repaving. Representatives will soon be ringing doorbells and peddling products in neighborhoods throughout the Southern Piedmont. While many of these companies are reputable, a few are not.

The BBB has tips for how you can shop at your front door without being scammed.

Out of all of the products sold door-to-door, magazine sales generate the most BBB complaints. “Some of these companies are legitimate,” said BBB President Tom Bartholomy, “but other companies have generated so many complaints that the BBB has labeled door-to-door magazine sales as a ‘highly-suspect’ industry.”

In the last 36 months, consumers have filed 92 complaints against local magazine sales operations. Charlotte-based Generations Making Differences (BBB grade F) has had 20 complaints filed against it, of which five are unanswered. Complaints focus on non-delivery of magazines.

“The good news is that consumers are doing their homework and checking companies out with the BBB,” said Bartholomy. “In the last 36 months, consumers have checked on magazine sales groups 2,894 times.”

These sales crews are usually from out of state and are sent to communities by the vanload to canvas subdivisions and sell products, often without appropriate licensing. The BBB has confirmed that each door-to-door sales representative needs to have a ‘privilege license’ required for ‘peddlers’ to solicit business in the city of Charlotte or Mecklenburg County.

“These young people are taught how to use high pressure tactics and emotional sales pitches,” said Bartholomy. “They may claim that they live in your neighborhood, or explain that they are working to get their lives back on track.”

“These emotion-based sales pitches are effective, but not usually true,” added Bartholomy.

The BBB offers the following advice about door-to-door sales companies.

Ask for identification so that you can find out the name of the company to look it up online at BBB.

If you want a magazine subscription, the BBB recommends that you subscribe to it directly instead of buying a subscription from a door-to-door magazine sales representative.

Use caution when giving money to door-to-door solicitors. Ask for information about how the money will be used. Consider giving directly to the organization instead of to the door-to-door solicitor.

Check charities and businesses out at before making a contribution or a purchase.

For more information, please visit BBB or call 1-877-317-7236 toll-free in N.C. and S.C.

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