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Old 11-29-17, 03:29 PM   #1
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Legal question about door to door salesmen

A crew of exterminators knocked on my door last June. I did have a bit of a spider problem so I went ahead and foolishly signed the contract right there on their iPad. I paid $99 up front and they cleaned up all the webs and sprayed the house on the spot. The contract binds you to pay for 4 treatments a year.

A week later I thought to look them up on Yelp, and the reviews were savage. Every review is one star and saying things like, "Scam". The positive reviews seem fake because they lack all specifics; their just like, "Joe was so great!"

So I email and call them telling them I'd like to cancel. Their scheme is that I'm locked into paying a $200 cancellation fee. So I've been trying to think of a way to wiggle out of it.

Yesterday it dawned on me that my city has a municipal code that says all solicitors must file with the police department, fill in a seven page application, pay a $35 fee, and receive a city issued license to solicit.

I called the police department, spoke to someone in Records, and she told me that no company by that name was registered with the police.

So I called up the manager of the pest control company this morning and asked them if they are registered in my city. They said no. I even offered the possibility that maybe their salesmen register as individuals, or that maybe the company registers with a different name. I told them I'd be happy to search the database.

The manager said they don't need a special license and offered me their state business license number as all the license they need.

I told him I think his salesman may have been in violation of city municipal code when the contract was signed. Manager said he doesn't care. I asked him to waive the $200 and cancel. He wouldn't budge.

So legal experts, is the contract enforceable?
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Old 11-29-17, 03:43 PM   #2
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Re: Legal question about door to door salesmen

I'll have you know you've come to the best place for legal advice

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Old 11-29-17, 03:54 PM   #3
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Re: Legal question about door to door salesmen

Where are you located? Lots of states have a 3 day cancellation protection.

Oh wait.. last June? erff.. you may be stuck.
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Old 11-29-17, 04:03 PM   #4
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Re: Legal question about door to door salesmen

Yeah, I didn’t read yelp until it was too late.
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Old 11-29-17, 04:32 PM   #5
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Re: Legal question about door to door salesmen

Probably too late to do anything about it but here are some resources you can look into.

www.bbb.org
FTC Bureau of Consumer Protection

Businesses don't want bad publicity so if you have a local TV station with a Consumer Protection Team, they might be able to help.
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Old 11-29-17, 04:57 PM   #6
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Re: Legal question about door to door salesmen

Not nearly enough info. The contract language may be important. Local and state statutes may be important. Your state may have some consumer protection info online, I know our state attorney general website has a big consumer protection section.

The fact that they did not register may or may not matter.

You could always cancel the card, they won't be able to charge you anymore.
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Old 11-29-17, 04:58 PM   #7
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Re: Legal question about door to door salesmen

Not opening the door to solicitors has served me well. Or if I do accidentally open it, thinking they might be a neighbor, I just say "no thank you" as nicely as I can and shut the door. I don't care if they're from Denmark and by selling magazines, I will help them go to college. And I don't care if they will shampoo my carpets for $99. If they want to share Jesus with me, that's sweet, but also no and thank you--door closed.

But since you didn't close the door--how much is it to keep them and cancel at the end of the year? $99 for each time they come, or have you paid some upfront? Read that contract carefully to make sure it doesn't renew or anything.
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Old 11-29-17, 05:00 PM   #8
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Re: Legal question about door to door salesmen

I cancelled the card at the advice of my bank. Back in June. They can’t charge shit.

What recourse do they have? Collections?
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Old 11-29-17, 05:03 PM   #9
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Re: Legal question about door to door salesmen

I am officially in their system as “cancelled”. But I owe a $200 cancellation fee.
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Old 11-29-17, 05:09 PM   #10
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Re: Legal question about door to door salesmen

Is anyone else disappointed there was no yelling or pointing out that the company wasn't located in town? The tale started with such possibilities, but then sort of went nowhere. For what it is worth, I think you are in the clear as they are unlikely to pursue collections over $200 and you seem to have some argument that they might be doing business unlawfully.
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Old 11-29-17, 05:15 PM   #11
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Re: Legal question about door to door salesmen

The story isn’t over yet (;

Is my reasoning sound with regards to failing to get a permit? Our city website is very clear about requiring a complete registration process and fee before you can door knock. Does that invalidate the contract?
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Old 11-29-17, 05:22 PM   #12
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Re: Legal question about door to door salesmen

Collections.
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Old 11-29-17, 05:23 PM   #13
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Re: Legal question about door to door salesmen

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Originally Posted by Mabuse View Post
The story isn’t over yet (;

Is my reasoning sound with regards to failing to get a permit? Our city website is very clear about requiring a complete registration process and fee before you can door knock. Does that invalidate the contract?
I'm not sure. Seems like it would be a separate issue. Otherwise you could have some knock knock pool installer install a 60k pool for you and then say "Ha! I checked and you didn't pay the door knock fee so I'm paying you nothing! You lose! Good day sir!"
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Old 11-29-17, 05:34 PM   #14
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Re: Legal question about door to door salesmen

If I hire a contractor and he builds the pool without pulling a permit unbeknownst to me, he’d be in a lot of trouble with the city. This company sold stuff without a permit.
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Old 11-29-17, 05:43 PM   #15
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Re: Legal question about door to door salesmen

^I think that's your answer, Mabuse.

They'd be in trouble with the city. It probably doesn't get you off the hook with them. It may mean they have to pay a fine to the city, or something similar.

And yes, I would think collections is their only option.
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Old 11-29-17, 05:54 PM   #16
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Re: Legal question about door to door salesmen

I can't imagine a hole-in-the-wall pest control company, who can't even afford a solicitor's license, has collections in their workflow. You could call and get into a shouting match with the company and see what happens.

Sucks to say, as I'm sure there's good ones out there... But if someone knocks on your door for work, they're desperate and unable to otherwise find clients. Don't do it. It's also possible that they hit up an invoice factoring company to keep themselves going. Borrowing against the contract length's revenue.

If the manager wouldn't cave, even after you mention that he's operating with a license - you're dealing with someone who can't afford to lose you.

My advice: go buy a can of Raid.
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Old 11-29-17, 05:54 PM   #17
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Re: Legal question about door to door salesmen

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mabuse View Post
If I hire a contractor and he builds the pool without pulling a permit unbeknownst to me, he’d be in a lot of trouble with the city. This company sold stuff without a permit.
Well there's a difference between pulling a permit for construction or whatever and not paying the little fee for doing the door to door sales. I think they'd be in trouble with the city for the later and probably have to pay up the $25 if the city wanted to pursue them. However I doubt it invalidates your contract.
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Old 11-29-17, 06:51 PM   #18
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Re: Legal question about door to door salesmen

But could it be argued that since he was in violation of municipal codes when we signed the contract that the contract is garbage?

Also, aren’t these types of contracts that have penalties for canceling illegal? I imagine there must be consumer protection laws against that sort of thing. Gyms can’t charge you $200 to end your membership.

For me it’s not about the $200. It’s that I can’t stand the idea of paying $200 to these shady assholes. I’d do anything to prevent them wining.

Last edited by Mabuse; 11-29-17 at 07:20 PM.
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Old 11-29-17, 07:48 PM   #19
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Re: Legal question about door to door salesmen

I don't see how they can enforce this. If it goes to collections so be it. Trying to collect $200 would cost more than $200. At worst you end up with a ding on your credit. A judgement against you doesn't mean squat unless maybe you are going for a mortgage.

A business license is entirely separate than a local permit to go door to door. Without that they are in violation. Your biggest obstacle was that it from last June. Too late to complain about it to the bank or cc company. Make sure cancel the card you used or change checking accounts if you wrote a check.

A quick story. Way back when I had my limousine service and was going broke, I was sued by a dealership I owed $2000 to. I lost and they got a judgement. They went to the Marshalls to go to the bank. Somehow the bank accidentally sent me the check, made out to the car dealership. I re-deposited the check into my account, closed out the account and opened anew at another bank. I never hear another word from the bank, the Marshalls or the dealership.
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Old 11-29-17, 08:18 PM   #20
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Re: Legal question about door to door salesmen

It doesn't cost anything to go to collections. They sell the debt to another company for pennies on the dollar. Then that company tries to collect. It will fuck up your credit.
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Old 11-29-17, 09:01 PM   #21
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Re: Legal question about door to door salesmen

Quote:
Originally Posted by Troy Stiffler View Post

Sucks to say, as I'm sure there's good ones out there... But if someone knocks on your door for work, they're desperate and unable to otherwise find clients. Don't do it.
So this! I never, never, never buy any kind of product or service from a door to door salesman or phone solicitation. If I need anything, and you are a good, reputable company, I'll find you. If you have to resort to bottom feeding door to door sales or telemarketing, you probably suck or are a scam and I want nothing to do with you.
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Old 11-29-17, 09:06 PM   #22
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Re: Legal question about door to door salesmen

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Originally Posted by Deftones View Post
It doesn't cost anything to go to collections. They sell the debt to another company for pennies on the dollar. Then that company tries to collect. It will fuck up your credit.
If they do it. If they're a little hole-in-the-wall shop, which doesn't even get a simple solicitor's license - they're probably not organized enough to be selling off debts.

But I guess the risk is there. So you shouldn't ignore it.
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Old 11-29-17, 09:11 PM   #23
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Re: Legal question about door to door salesmen

Do the employees come check in on the morning at the office? If so, follow one of them around for a while and explain to every house that they go to that it's a scam. I bet they void the cancelation charge real quick.

Although if they are contract workers leaving from their house then you are Sol
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Old 11-29-17, 09:23 PM   #24
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Re: Legal question about door to door salesmen

Have you considered mailing photos of their children being dropped off at school?
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Old 11-29-17, 09:38 PM   #25
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Re: Legal question about door to door salesmen

Quote:
Originally Posted by cultshock View Post
I never, never, never buy any kind of product or service from a door to door salesman or phone solicitation. If I need anything, and you are a good, reputable company, I'll find you. If you have to resort to bottom feeding door to door sales or telemarketing, you probably suck or are a scam and I want nothing to do with you.
This cannot be emphasized enough. If you need something, do some research and find the right person/product/service. More than ten years ago, my mother was ripped off to the tune of 13 Grand by a door-to-door contractor slimeball. We sued and went through the whole process with the help of a government agency that assists elderly scam victims, but she ended up getting only $1,000 back.
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