As the warm has returned to Colorado, so to have the Door-to-Door Scammers looking to make a quick buck from unsuspecting residents. Unscrupulous sales agents traveling from door-to-door have been known to use deceptive, high pressure sales tactics to get people to purchase expensive, and sometimes substandard, products and services. Some of the most common door-to-door schemes involve Magazine Sales, Traveling Contractors, Home Alarm System Sellers, and Meat Sellers.
Magazine subscription agents have been known to use teens and young adults to approach residents and sell subscriptions at often over-inflated prices, claiming they are raising money for a charity, school trip, or other seemingly worthy cause. While consumers usually have a pleasant experience with the young salespeople, they have reported problems receiving the magazines they’ve ordered, poor customer service, and billing issues when dealing directly with the companies.
Traveling contractor scams can take various forms. Some offer home repair services to include; roof repair, driveway paving, and other handyman types of activities, while others offer tree trimming or yard work services. All quote a low price that appears to be a very good deal, but most raise the fee substantially after the work is supposedly complete. Consumer complaints have illustrated that often times the work is substandard or incomplete, but the consumer is unable to contact the contractor for a refund. Oftentimes, the traveling contractor collects an upfront fee, usually saying it’s for supplies, equipment, etc., and vanishes before any work is done.
Home alarm system sellers have been known to use high pressure and misleading sales techniques throughout the nation. Consumers have reported that some salespeople have told them the representative was there to replace the current security system with an upgrade, but actually installed a new system with a costly monitoring contract. Some sales representatives have even told consumers that the consumer’s current security company was out of business and the consumer needed a new system. Consumers should also be wary of “free” equipment offers, which usually mean a long-term and expensive system monitoring contract.
Meat sellers are known nationwide to sell their products door-to-door, but most are also known for poor quality meat, poor customer service, and not honoring their satisfaction guarantees. They are also known for high pressure sales tactics and may offer a ‘really good deal’ that has to be taken right away. While claims regarding the source and grades of meat sold from vehicles traveling door-to-door cannot be readily verified, consumers who feel they have been defrauded by a Colorado company are encouraged to file complaints with the Office of Consumer Fraud. Consumers can also call the USDA’s Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-674-6854 for more information.
Consumers can help protect themselves from door-to-door scammers by following these tips:
- Ask for identification from the salesperson before they enter your home.
- Don’t do business on the spot; ask for all information to be put in writing.
- Research companies with the Better Business Bureau (www.bbb.org)
- Verify all licenses with the regulatory office (Secretary of State, Department of Regulatory Agencies, Local government)
- Get written estimates from several companies and check references for each company.
- Read what you are signing, do not take the salesperson’s word for it. Ensure that all promises made by the salesperson are included in the contract.
Consumers who believe they have fallen victim to a scam or who would like to report fraudulent activity may do so at www.coloradoattorneygeneral.gov/complaint. For additional information please call our office at 800-222-4444.