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BBB: Use caution when dealing with door-to-door sales callers

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Photo illustration Courtesy of MetroCreative

The warm weather season brings flocks of door-to-door salespeople to Kansas.

Peddling everything from driveway pavement to magazines, they are beginning their annual migration into our neighborhoods. But before you let them take your hard-earned money, the Better Business Bureau urges that you review a few tips on dealing with door-to-door solicitors.

Take your time

Whether they are trying to sell you a new driveway, a home alarm system, a tree trimming or a bunch of steaks, salespeople will often make it seem as if your decision must be made immediately.

Don’t buy into their sense of urgency. Their “special offer” may come in the form of having leftover material from another job nearby.

They may claim there is a quick time limit on the deal they are offering. However they dress up their plea to get your business, it’s up to you to keep your head and resist a snap decision.

No reputable company or contractor will insist that you decide right away.

Ask upfront whether they are licensed to do business in your area. If it is a service like tree trimming, lawn work, paving or some other work that will be performed on your property, they should be insured as well. Don’t take their word for it. Ask to see proof.

In cases where you are genuinely interested in their offer, simply tell them so, but add that you must have a little time to consider it. Ask them to come back later.

While they are gone, check up on them. A good place to start is by going to and looking them up. BBB’s Business Reviews can give you important information about the company.

Remember to do an online search as well by entering their business name and words like “complaints” or “scam.”

Ask for and check references and get bids from at least two other companies. Get the offer in writing.

There is never a good reason to hire someone without having a written contract. There is never a good reason to purchase something from someone

without getting a sales receipt.

Any balking on the part of the salesperson when it comes to contracts or receipts is a sign of a scam.

The contract should include:

▪ Start and completion dates.

▪ All transaction details, including any verbal promises.

▪ Details of warranty and guarantee.

▪ Absolutely no blank pages or spaces. (An unscrupulous person could easily add in whatever they want later.)

Remember that it is a good idea to deal with local or area companies whenever possible. An out-of-town business address can translate to difficulties later if there is any dispute.

Observe their vehicles. If they are unmarked or from out of state, that could mean trouble.

Pay with a credit card. This gives you advantages if there is a dispute later.

The Cooling-Off Rule

The FTC’s Three-Day Cooling-Off Rule gives you three days to cancel purchases of $25 or more that are made in your home.

By law they must tell you about your right to cancel at the time of the sale. They must give you two copies of a cancellation form.

Remember: You have the right to change your mind.

To learn more about details and exceptions to the rule, visit the FTC’s website.

When salespeople come knocking on your door this spring and summer, be sure it’s not really trouble that has come calling.

Denise Groene is the state director of the Better Business Bureau of Kansas. Contact the bureau at 800-856-2417 or