Author: Aaron Reese
As the weather has warmed, you may have noticed more door-to-door solicitors in your area. You’ve probably had more fliers attached to your screen doors or pamphlets stuffed in your mailboxes. It happens every year. And, of course, with more solicitors coming door-to-door, the risk of coming into contact with scams increases.
The BBB has recently been receiving word of more aggressive tactics by magazine sales companies and charity solicitors, so now is probably a good time for a refresher in what to do when confronted by door-to-door salespeople.
You can find hundreds of articles about how to protect yourselves from door-to-door solicitors, but some of them probably go a little too far in how they portray salespeople. Many articles advise that homeowners should never talk to salespeople. That’s certainly an effective way to avoid door-to-door fraud, but I think it goes a little too far. Most businesses are just trying to find some new customers and door-to-door is one way to do that. I prefer to treat these visits like any other type of advertising… most are fine; some lie. Prepare yourselves for the liars.
You can find many tips about what to do after fraud has occurred, but they gloss over what to do when someone is standing right in front of you, lying through their teeth.
How do you protect yourself, what do you do?
It’s much more difficult to spot a lie when it isn’t in print or on TV. When it comes from the lips of a real live human being, most of us are hard-wired to give a person the benefit of the doubt. Don’t let your guard down. You don’t have to believe the person is lying, but you should be prepared to verify what they say. You can protect yourselves from liars without being rude to anyone who doesn’t deserve it. You only need to do a few things.
- First thing’s first: you don’t owe the solicitor anything.
If you don’t want to talk to them, don’t. If you want to check them out, do it. If you ask them to leave and they won’t, call the police. Don’t let high-pressure sales tactics convince you that they’re in charge. It’s your home. The solicitor might need you, but you don’t need them. You’re in charge. Never forget that.
- Don’t invite them in.
It’s just not a good idea to invite a stranger into your house; I don’t care who they are. If they ask to come in, politely decline. Ask for their literature or business card if you’re interested in your product and tell them you’ll get back to them. Take the time to check them out. If they get pushy, slam the door and lock it.
- Don’t agree to anything on the first visit.
Tell the solicitor you would like to check out their company. Ask for references. Google the business. Ask if they’re BBB Accredited. If they get defensive, close the door. Good businesses will be happy to differentiate themselves from their less scrupulous competitors and will probably be eager to show off references and their BBB Accreditation. Salespeople who suddenly get squirrely when you want to know more about them should be avoided. Tell them you’re not interested.
That’s it. If you follow those steps, you’ll avoid a considerable amount of grief and frustration. “Trust but verify.” This way you can be polite, avoid confrontation, and protect yourself against the greedy and desperate liars in the world. If at any point you need additional advice when dealing with a solicitor, call the BBB and we’ll be glad to help!