Column: Tis the season for door-to-door solicitations | Columnists

Sunshine and warmer temperatures mean door-to-door solicitors have started hitting the pavement. Marketing everything from solar panels and other energy solutions, alarm systems, handyman work, and even charitable organizations, door-to-door salespeople typically hit the pavement through the end of September. Better Business Bureau serving Central East Texas urges consumers to make smart and safe decisions when answering the door to a salesperson.

“Many legitimate companies use door to door sales to generate revenue,” Mechele Agbayani Mills, President and CEO of BBB serving Central East Texas said. “However, refrain from doing business with those who use high pressure sales tactics, arrive in unmarked vehicles, do not have company letterhead or business cards and require cash payment as they could be unscrupulous individuals who may want nothing more than to line their pockets”

If visited by a door-to-door sales representative, BBB advises the following:

Research the company with BBB. Visit bbb.org to review the company’s BBB Business Profile to find out more about their marketplace performance. Consider customer reviews, complaint history, and overall company history. If it is difficult to find information on the company, consider working with another company. Remember, always look for the BBB seal. It’s the Sign of a Better BusinessSM.

Deal with local companies. Not only is this beneficial for our local economy, it also helps ensure that the company is accessible should you need them to return to fulfill a warranty or for other reasons.

Read and understand contracts before signing. Get transaction details, including verbal promises in writing. Include start and completion dates in the contract. Never sign any contract that has blank spaces.

Pay with a credit card. Take advantage of the consumer protections provided by using a credit card. Never pay in full (unless the job is completed), and never pay in cash.

Remember the “Three-Day Cooling-Off Rule.” The Federal Trade Commission’s Three-Day Cooling-Off Rule gives consumers three days to cancel purchases of more than $130 that are made in their home or at a location that is not the seller’s permanent place of business. Always get a receipt. By law, the company must give consumers a refund within 10 days of receiving the cancellation notice.

Seek at least three bids. Getting several proposals from prospective contractors based on the same specifications, materials and labor needed to complete the project gives you a better idea of ​​what reasonable price is. Homeowners should discuss bids in detail with each contractor and ask questions about variations in pricing. Keep in mind, the lowest-priced contractor may not be the best deal. Go to https://www.bbb.org/get-a-quote to get a bid from a business you can trust.

Be wary of high-pressure sales tactics. A reputable seller will give you time to think through the deal and make an appointment to return at a later date. If they don’t want you to do any research on them or their product or service, you may want to spend your money elsewhere.

Be Safe. Never invite anyone you don’t know into your home. If the salesperson refuses to leave and/or if you feel threatened, call the police immediately.

It’s also important to note that some cities do require a permit and may have other solicitation regulations regarding door-to-door sales people.

Go to BBB.org to look up online marketplace business profiles, file a complaint, or write a customer review. Visit BBB Scam Tracker to research and report scams.

About BBB: BBB is a nonprofit, business-supported organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. Most BBB services to consumers are free of charge. BBB provides objective advice, free BBB Business Profiles on more than 5.3 million companies, 11,000 charity reviews, dispute resolution services, alerts and educational information on topics affecting marketplace trust. Visit bbb.org for more information. BBB Serving Central East Texas was founded in 1985 and serves 19 counties.

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