Door-To-Door Sales Scams

Door-to-door sales of magazine subscriptions have become an excellent vehicle for those devoted to perpetrating fraud on unsuspecting consumers in recent years. While most companies that employ this marketing technique are legitimate, the general public should be aware that there are a large number of these businesses that seem to have no problem taking advantage of consumers. Any time a stranger knocks on your door and expects to be given access to your home, there is major risk involved.

This issue of the Florida Consumer E-Newsletter is dedicated to protecting you from fraudulent door-to-door magazine sales by giving you some crucial information about an area where scams have become all too commonplace. Whether it is a new scam or just a newer version of an older scam, remember... consumer education is the best defense against fraud and deception! The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is here for you - for more information, visit our website at, or call our Consumer Assistance Center. They will answer almost any question you may have or direct you to the best resource for assistance. If you are calling within Florida simply dial 1-800-HELP-FLA (435-7352), outside of Florida 850-488-2221, or en Español 1-800-FL-AYUDA (352-9832).

Charles H. Bronson
Charles H. Bronson, Commissioner

door-to-door sales

Door-To-Door Sales -- Beware!

Consumers must know that door-to-door sales is an unregulated industry. Among other things, this means that it is left to the discretion of the employer as to whether or not the company's sales force is put through any type of background check. The vast majority of complaints about businesses employing this sales approach involve billing/refund disputes, late or non-delivery issues, high-pressure sales tactics or outright misrepresentation. But, a poorly vetted sales staff can and has resulted in incidents which are far more serious, including theft, assault, and even murder.

Many companies peddling magazine subscriptions employ high school and college students who are in need of summer employment. They are given plausible sales pitches and then shipped out to different locales to canvass neighborhoods one residence at a time. In some cases the actual salespersons may not even be aware of the fraud that their employer is perpetrating. Though it's good to try to help these kids, you should report sales crews in your area to the local police. Your most important priority should always be the safety of you and your family.

The Pitch

Beware of an emotional sales pitch by someone selling door-to-door. They may claim to be a local student (usually untrue) trying to get their life back on track, or trying to raise money for a school trip. Others may say that they are raising money for a charity, to earn points for a scholarship, or to win a contest. Whatever the pitch, don't let yourself be hurried, intimidated, or coerced. Remember, the salesperson is at your doorstep uninvited and remains there only at your courtesy. Ask for proper identification and be careful about letting them into your home. 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. And lastly, get everything in writing, especially the total price and all the conditions that apply.

Can I Cancel?

Yes! In Florida, if you purchase goods or services during the course of a "home solicitation sale", you maintain a three-day right to cancel. A transaction is considered a "home solicitation sale" if it takes place in your home, or at a location which is not the main or permanent place of business for the seller, so long as the purchase price is more than $25. Every home solicitation seller is also required to provide a written contract to the buyer which includes an explanation of the buyer's right to cancel. Buyers wishing to cancel a home solicitation sale must notify the seller in writing no later than midnight of the third business day after the day the buyer signed the contract. If the notice is sent by mail, it must be postmarked no later than midnight of the third business day after the contract date, and a refund must be mailed within 10 days after the sale has been cancelled.

If you wish to file a complaint against or check the complaint history of a home solicitation seller, contact the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services at 1-800-HELP-FLA (435-7352) when calling from Florida, 850-488-2221 when outside of Florida, or 1-800-FL-AYUDA (352-9832) en Español.