Chicago, IL - April 27, 2010- Spring is here and while most people are happy to see the temperatures rising, flowers blooming and lawns greening, one aspect of spring that isn’t welcome is the door-to-door sales scam. Currently, the Chicago area seems to be the target of people selling magazines. For the past 12 months there have been 123 complaints, a 46 percent increase over the previous one-year period with 84 complaints in Northern Illinois.
“Perhaps the most important thing to remember if you wish to listen to a door-to-door sales person is not to be influenced by an emotional appeal,” explained Steve J. Bernas, president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois. “Appealing to a potential buyer’s emotion is a very common sales technique of many door-to-door sales people. Getting the emotions involved often causes consumers to be less objective and to let their guard down.”
“Phrases like: ‘You’d be helping feed children,’ or ‘Your support would help pay for my schooling’ are typical of the emotionally charged sales pitches that are often used,” Bernas explained.
What may happen when a consumer decides to make a purchase from a door-to-door sales person? Here are three examples from Chicago-area consumers:
Geneva, Ill., resident: “I bought the magazines from someone that came to my door during the summer. He said that his company was teaching him job skills and sales skills so that he could raise money. When the magazines did not show up after three months I started trying to contact the company. I could not get through to anyone. I filed a complaint with the BBB and got a full refund. Next time someone comes to my door I don’t want to hear their story.”
Oswego, Ill., resident: “I bought a children’s magazine from a guy that came to my door since I wanted to buy a magazine for my niece’s birthday anyway. The salesperson said that they needed to reach a sales goal. I could have easily purchased the magazine on my own but I was trying to help this guy out. Afterwards, I kept asking her if she got the magazine. Her birthday passed and she did not get it. There was a phone number on the receipt and when I tried it just rang and rang. I got a refund after I filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau.”
Waukegan, Ill., resident: “A college student came to the door. I bought a magazine from him because he told me that he was getting college credit for sales and communication. I never got the magazine and could not reach the company by phone or e-mail. When I complained to the Better Business Bureau the company said that the magazine was not available and that they had offered me a replacement. I called and e-mailed again to try to arrange for a replacement but I have never heard back from them. It only cost around $33 but if they keep doing that to people over and over again that is a lot of money.”
Bernas said that it is very typical for door-to-door sales people to look clean cut and try to present themselves as honest and hard working. He explained that these are simply sales techniques because scammers who look and sound like liars are not very successful.
“We always encourage people to use our website at www.bbb.org to check out a company’s rating first,” the BBB president said. “While this is sometimes difficult to do with a door-to-door sales person, consumers should not commit until they have investigated the offer.”
Bernas noted that if the sales person is pressuring a consumer to make a quick decision and not investigate the company and offer, that in itself should be a warning signal to the consumer.
For more advice on how to protect yourself and your business from scams visit www.bbb.org
As a private, non-profit organization, the purpose of the Better Business Bureau is to promote an ethical marketplace. BBBs help resolve buyer/seller complaints by means of conciliation, mediation and arbitration. BBBs also review advertising claims, online business practices and charitable organizations. BBBs develop and issue reports on businesses and nonprofit organizations and encourage people to check out a company or charity before making a purchase or donation.