Avoid door-to-door salesmen in the modern world

Dear Watchdog: Last week, a young man came to our door wearing a Reliant Energy ID tag and holding a clipboard. He told us Oncor had placed us on a list that made us eligible for a 7-cent kwh rate with no cancellation fee and free weekends. Clearly this sounded way too good to be true, and we didn’t fall for it. Have you heard of this before? — M.O., Dallas

salesman

Dear M.O.: Yes. Door-to-door salesmen for electricity companies are all the rage. Kudos to you for not biting. Oncor doesn’t put people on a price list. He made that up. The clipboard probably held his script about how to steamroll everybody’s grandmother.

When I was a boy the Fuller Brush Man roamed our neighborhood, peddling his brushes and cleaners to moms. He looked tired. His clothes were frayed. He shuffled along. But I don’t think he scammed the neighborhood women with inferior cleaning products.

fuller brush

Today when a door-to-door salesman comes to my door, I turn on my tape recorder and catch him in lies. It’s that simple. I haven’t had an honest salesperson come to my door in a decade.

Check to see if a salesman wears a name tag. For some industries and by some local ordinances, it’s required. A home alarm salesman in Texas, for instance, must wear a state ID badge with his photograph issued by the Texas Department of Public Safety’s Private Security Bureau.

Watchdog Nation advises: Never buy anything from a door-to-door salesman (exceptions made for Girl Scouts, Little Leaguers and high school kids). The Willy Loman-like Fuller Brush Man has been replaced by unsavory folks who lie about electricity rates, sucker people into five-year home alarm contracts and sell magazine subscriptions for periodicals that never arrive.

Don’t buy something you weren’t planning to buy because someone shows up at your front door. In fact, don’t open the door.

 

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