Unscrupulous sellers try to victimize consumers in their own homes, selling everything from magazines to vacuum cleaners to energy-saving products. These sellers often use high-pressure or scare tactics and sometimes misrepresent the quality and value of their products.
Complaints show that consumers have paid several times the going rate for comparable merchandise and services. To avoid being victimized by an unscrupulous seller, follow these tips:
- High-pressure sales tactics are often a part of fraudulent activity. Don't let yourself be hurried, intimidated or coerced. After all, the salesperson is at your door uninvited and remains there only at your courtesy.
- If you are interested in buying from a door-to-door seller, get everything in writing including price, warranty and all conditions. Tell the salesperson you will check it out and get back to him.
- Ask for proper identification before listening to a sales pitch.
- Be careful about letting any salesperson into your home.
- Don't fall for the "sympathy" approach. Salespersons may say they're working their way through college or in some other way try to get your sympathy.
- Be wary of any offer that includes "referral sales." A referral sale is when a seller offers to pay you a certain amount of cash or promises a discount if you give him the name of friends who might buy his products.
- Don't make any payment hastily, especially for merchandise or services you haven't received.
Missouri law provides that you have the right to cancel any contract within three business days (excluding Saturdays, Sundays and legal holidays) if the seller personally solicited and presented the contract in your home.
By law, door-to-door salespersons must advise you of this cancellation period, and acknowledgment of it must be part of any contract you sign. If you wish to cancel, the notice must be in writing; no special format is required. Any notice sent by mail becomes effective when the letter, properly addressed and postage paid, reaches a mailbox.
A cancellation may not be made when these circumstances apply:
- The buyer requested the seller provide the goods or services without delay because of an emergency;
- The seller in good faith made a substantial start toward fulfilling the agreement before the notice of cancellation was given; and
- If goods are involved, the items cannot be returned to the seller in "substantially" as good a condition as when received by the buyer.
In circumstances other than the ones described above, a home solicitor must return any payment or trade-in goods received from the buyer within 10 days after the notification of cancellation. The seller also must mark the word "canceled" on the contract.
If you cancel the agreement, the seller may request that you return any delivered merchandise. The seller must pay postage if you are asked to ship it. However if the seller does not request (within 20 days of when you cancel) that the goods be returned, then you may keep them.