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BBB warns about door-to-door sales

Beter Business Bureau

Knock. Knock. Over the next few weeks, kids will be finishing school and the end of school marks the kickoff of door-to-door sales of everything from magazines to meat. Representatives are already ringing doorbells and peddling products in neighborhoods throughout the Southern Piedmont. While many of these companies are reputable, a few are not.

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 BBB has labeled door-to-door magazine sales as a “highly-suspect” industry.”

In the last 36 months, consumers have filed 52 complaints against magazine sales operations. Complaints focus on non-delivery of magazines.

“The good news is that consumers are doing their homework and checking companies out with BBB,” said Bartholomy. “In the last 36 months, consumers have checked on local door-to-door sales companies 4,574 times.”

However, many of these sales crews are not based locally. Instead, they are from out of state and are sent to communities by the vanload to canvas subdivisions and sell products, often without appropriate licensing. BBB has confirmed that each door-to-door sales representative needs to have a privilege license.

“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.

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, BBB recommends that you subscribe to it directly instead of purchasing 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.
  • Don’t fall for common tactics used to gain your trust. The solicitor will often say that they live in your neighborhood and that your neighbors have already given contributions or purchased their products.
  • Don’t be pressured or intimidated into ordering a product that you don’t want or need because your check will be cashed immediately and you will have no recourse for obtaining a refund. Do not pay in cash because the money could be pocketed by the salesperson.
  • Check charities and businesses out at BBB 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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