Dishonest door-to-door salespeople have a variety of tools at their disposal: a “today only” offer, consumers’ fears about security or a good story that pulls at the heartstrings.
According to Connecticut Better Business Bureau President, Paulette Scarpetti, front-door peddlers can create serious problems for consumers who fall for these tactics.
“Every year BBB receives complaints from consumers who have been cheated out of a deposit, victimized by incompetent contractors or get unauthorized charges on their credit cards through door-to-door sales.”
Typical consumer complaints to BBB about door-to-door scams involve unqualified contractors, sales pitches from unethical home security system salespeople, questionable handymen and students selling items such as magazine subscriptions to help pay tuition expenses. In some cases these consumers and the student salespeople are unwitting victims of scam magazine-selling operations that collect credit card numbers.
Every year hundreds of complaints to BBBs across the nation detail aggressive and misleading sales tactics and unsupported claims to pressure consumers into buying bogus products, magazine subscriptions that were never received and food products that were not of the high quality that was promised.
While not all door-to-door salespeople are shady, consumers must be extremely careful to prevent losing hundreds or thousands of dollars and even risk having a would-be contractor scouting a home for a future burglary or poking through unattended personal documents.
BBBs across the country hear about shoddy workmanship, substandard materials and out-of-state contractors who are unregistered and operating illegally in the state. In an ongoing campaign, Connecticut BBB participates in news conferences with Secretary of the State Denise Merrill and Attorney General George Jepsen to announce millions of dollars in fines against these kinds of businesses.
Some are trying to pass themselves off as legitimate businesspeople but may be uninsured, incompetent or con artists who will take a deposit, or do little or no work and disappear.
Connecticut BBB offers tips to protect yourself when a stranger comes knocking at your door to offer goods or services:
•Don’t be pressured - Legitimate sellers won’t push you into a “today only” offer or use other high pressure tactics. Listen carefully to what they’re telling you and their tone.
•Ask them to leave behind relevant information – A legitimate door-to-door seller will respect your wishes and leave with you relevant information describing the goods or services and containing contact information to allow you to make an informed decision.
•Research & verify credentials – or find your own contractor - Go to bbb.org and obtain three bids based upon the same materials and labor. If there’s a big price discrepancy, ask for an explanation. Check registration on Connecticut’
•Ask for a contract, proof of insurance and registration – A contract protects you. Make sure you understand it, that it is detailed and contains all verbal promises.
•“Rule of thirds” for payment - After you’ve done your research and chosen a provider, a typical payment plan would involve paying one third of the project cost as a deposit to cover materials and lock-in a start date, one third when work is half-completed and a final third upon completion and inspection of the work.
For more consumer tips you can trust, visit http://www.ct.bbb.org.