The Dangers of Door to Door Sales

Looking for legal help with a scam?

infographic detailing your options to cancel and stop door-to-door sales.

Customers are being taken advantage of by door-to-door sales schemes, but there are things you can do to protect yourself.

Did a representative show up at your house and offer you a special deal if you signed up with them? Did you agree to a sale that, a few minutes after closing the door you simply weren’t comfortable with? At FairShake we have helped customers like you who were victimized by door to door sales.

Are Door to Door Sales Illegal?

You may have been the victim of a scam or felt pressure from a Salesman who showed up at your house and now you want to know if door-to-door sales are illegal.

You might be surprised to learn, much like most people, that in the United States, door-to-door sales are perfectly legal, assuming the salesman doesn’t sell to anyone under the age of 16.

In some cities and states, like Ohio, there are ordinances in place that prohibit door-to-door sales without a permit. In other places they are prohibited from going door-to-door after 6 p.m. Similar restrictions apply to the state of Illinois which dictates that door to door salesmen cannot approach your home between 5 p.m. and 9 a.m. nor can they approach you on Sundays. 

But just because it is legal to go door-to-door and offer products and services or discounts from big companies like AT&T or Sprint doesn’t mean that scams don’t happen or that these deals can turn out to be misleading.

One common scam is for representatives to come to your house and offer special terms if you sign up with them only to find out after the fact that the terms don’t apply to you and you get charged a lot more than you expected.

So what can you do if you’re uneasy about a contract you made? 

Is it possible to cancel a contract made with a door to door salesperson?

We’ve all been in a situation at least once where we were pressured to make a purchase but immediately regretted that purchase. If you find yourself in that situation after meeting a door-to-door Salesman, there are legal methods for you to cancel a contract you made.

This is called the cooling-off rule. According to the Federal Trade Commission, the cooling-off rule allows you to cancel certain contracts you make with door to door salesmen. However, there are a few things you need to be aware of:

  1. First, you have 3 days to cancel a sale that was made at your house if a door-to-door Salesman came to your house, or if the sale was made at your place of business, or at a temporary location like outside of Convention Center, at a hotel, or at a restaurant.
  2. Sellers, even door-to-door salesmen, are legally required to tell you that you have the right to cancel. They have to give you (1) two copies of a cancellation form, and they have to give you (2) a copy of your contract or your receipt
  3. If you submit a request for cancellation, the door to door salesman has 10 days to cancel and return any check, if you wrote them a check, or refund your money and whatever method you used. Within 20 days they have to pick up any physical items that they left with you, or they have to reimburse you for the cost of mailing those items back to them.

There are however a few exceptions to this rule.

  • If the purchase was done at your house by a door-to-door Salesman for less than $25, this rule doesn’t apply and you can’t cancel your contract.
  • If the sale was made at a temporary location like a hotel or restaurant and it was for less than $130, you don’t qualify for this rule.
  • This rule also doesn’t apply to any arts and crafts that are sold, any vehicles that are sold, real estate, insurance, or securities.

Unfortunately, just because this is the rule doesn’t mean that a door-to-door Salesman will actually follow through with it or that you’ll be able to hold them accountable to this federal law.

How do I stop door to door sales?

If you are tired of people showing up at your house, you can sign up for what it’s called the Do Not Knock program

This program functions very similarly to the Do Not Call Registry except for your home. It’s a free service from a nonprofit organization that is designed to stop solicitors from knocking on your door. If you are signed up for this service sales people cannot legally knock on your door. You can post a no trespassing sign on your front door or a no soliciting sign.

But what if they knock anyway? At this point, you should remain calm and simply inform them that you are on the do not knock registry. They should leave at this time and apologize for the error. Be very kind and calm throughout this exchange.

If you live in an area that requires a permit for any door-to-door sales, when the sales people get that permit they will automatically be given a list of the houses that are signed up for the Do Not knock program so they should know ahead of time that your home is part of that list. Still, they might make a mistake in which case just remember to inform them that you are part of that registry. 

Most of the time no soliciting signs will be very effective and you might see a door-to-door Salesman walk up your driveway or walkway, read the sign, and leave.

You can also use things like security systems with speakers through which you can communicate to people as they attempt to enter your yard and inform them of your existence on the do not knock program. Tangentially you can stay in your house and not answer the door.

Next steps…

If you have already been the victim of a scam or the sales person isn’t honoring the cancellation, or your do not knock attempt failed, we can help. Reach out to our team to see how we can help you cancel your contract or get back the money you deserve.

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