Robb Hicken: Salesman knocking at your door? Better ask to see his ID

Better Business BureauJune 26, 2014 

Eagle, like all communities in the Snake River region, works hard to protect its residents from being taken advantage of by summer solicitors.

"We typically get requests for permits from lawn-care services, some contractors and home improvements, and magazine solicitors," says Sheri Horton, deputy clerk for the city. "But, for some reason this year, we've seen a large number of roofing contractors."

Eagle requires anyone who goes door-to-door within the city limits to wear a photo identification badge and make it visible when approaching homes and businesses.

"That photo ID is a big thing," Horton says. "If they don't produce it, don't do business with them."

Horton says the city does a background check and a criminal-records search on the employees or people working for the companies.

Many legitimate companies use door-to-door sales as a component of their marketing plan, and various city ordinances have been put in place to regulate door-to-door solicitations to protect residents from unscrupulous individuals.

One incident recently required the city of Eagle to reject a salesperson's permit because residents had called in about his abrasive and coercive tactics. The roof-repair salesman would sell a contract, fail to explain the three-day cancellation policy and fail to return phone calls.

Another incident involving a security/personal alarm system had a Nampa resident concerned about the company. The woman was so concerned about the contract that she was looking up the company on the website as he was speaking to her, and she found it had thousands of complaints about the services and products.

Another incident with the same company had a New Plymouth resident complaining about the salesperson after he repeatedly badgered the homeowner's mother, who didn't live in the house but lives in Boise, to subscribe to the emergency alert system.

If you don't live within the city limits, you can ask for credentials and, if solicitors are belligerent, call the county sheriff's office where you reside.

An Ada County resident called BBB after a door-to-door solicitor selling driveway sealcoating approached her. She said she was just uncertain about the salesman's credentials.

Things to remember:

• Get transaction details in writing. Be sure you receive a contract or receipt explaining the details of your purchase and all of the terms and conditions that apply.

• Remember the "Three-Day Cooling-Off Rule." That Federal Trade Commission rule gives consumers three days to cancel purchases of more than $25 made in their home or at a location that is not the seller's permanent place of business. Along with a receipt, the salesperson should always provide a cancellation form that can be sent to the company to cancel the purchase within three days. By law, the company must give consumers a refund within 10 days of receiving the cancellation notice.

• Stand strong. Do not invite unsolicited salespeople into your home. If you are not interested, ask them to leave. If a salesperson refuses, threaten to call the police, and follow through if they don't leave.

Robb Hicken: 947-2115

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