Vancouver, BC – Door-to-door sales is not illegal in B.C. but consumers do need to be aware of the pitfalls and potential scams that come knocking, as well as what their rights are when signing direct sales contracts.
“The biggest concern we have is aggressive sales tactics that we sometimes hear about,” says Evan Kelly, Senior Communications Advisor for BBB serving Mainland BC. “While aggressive selling is not illegal, we hear about questionable companies that travel around demanding to inspect your furnace based on some non-existent government program is unethical. Consumers need to do their due diligence before making big purchases.”
BBB offers seven tips to get the work done properly and protect against fraudulent operators:
- Do not make decisions at your front door. If your property requires maintenance or remodeling, BBB recommends researching companies at www.bbb.org, to see what other consumers’ experiences have been like. Also, do not invite unsolicited sales people into your home.
- Ask for identification and information. If someone is selling door to door, request they provide you with proper identification and leave you with material to read about their products and services. Legitimate sellers and contractors will give you the time you need to research their reputation and reliability.
- Watch out for high pressure sales tactics. Avoid sellers who encourage you to sign a contract or put down a deposit right away, claiming that they will offer a special rate, but only if you act immediately.
- Check all contractor’s credentials. Make sure they provide proof of required insurance coverage, licensing and proof of registration.
- Get it all in writing. A contract should contain a description of the project, labor and materials to be used, a start and completion date and payment schedule. Make sure contracts contain any verbal promises in writing. Never pay in advance more than one-third of the contract value.
- Be wary of down payments. By law it can’t be more than 10% of the cost.
- Remember your rights. In B.C. the “Cooling-Off Period” gives you ten days to cancel purchases over $50 made at your home or other location that is not the seller’s permanent place of business.
- If you ever feel in danger, call local authorities.
Some popular door-to-door schemes include:
- Asphalt pavers – They offer cut-rate paving services, claiming they have material left over from another job in the neighborhood. Their work and materials are often substandard and the quality of work is poor for what ends up being a very inflated price.
- Home improvement contractors – Many door to door contractors are unlicensed, uninsured and unqualified to do the work they offer. Roofing contractors may make false claims that major repairs are necessary or that your roof needs replacement.
- Cash deals – BBB sees this as an unethical practice in an effort to avoid taxes and leaves the consumer with no binding contract.
- Alarm systems – BBBs across the country receive complaints about people selling alarm systems and failing to divulge terms of the contract for alarm system monitoring.
- HVAC systems – Some door-to-door salespeople will try to sell new furnaces or parts that you likely don’t need. They can be aggressive claim it’s part of a government program, which it likely isn’t. (firstname.lastname@example.org)