Door to Door Sales Must Be Licensed

It happens to all of us.  We are on the couch with our favorite book, eating dinner, or engrossed in a show when DING DONG! An uninvited person shows up on our door to sell us something we don’t want or need.  The last person I know of in the neighborhood selling door to door recently was VIVINT. You’ve seen the signs in neighbors’ yards or perhaps your own – orange home security system signs.

The young gal at the door was pleasant, used my name and immediately told me she wasn’t selling anything, which is sure sign that she is. I cut her off saying I was not in the market for a security system.  She assured me again this was not a sales call. She went on to use the owner’s first name of the house next door as if she just spoke to her. She went on to say “Amanda” (not her real name, I am changing for the story) sent her over to me because “Amanda” thought I would be interested.  Then, as if to really seal the deal, she asked if I was aware of the dangers in my neighborhood.

Hmmm. Interesting techniques. Use my name, use my neighbor by name and say the neighbor referred me, and then the real kicker – TRY TO SCARE ME. But here’s the catch.  She used the owner’s first name alright, but the owner does not live there. It’s a rental. Also, our names are easily found on the property appraisers web site. So I know my “neighbor” did not refer me. And last, I don’t scare easily.  I do, however, have my limits on how much B.S. I will take.

I continued to be firm in my no, cutting her off in mid sentence. I stopped short of slamming the door in her face. I can be tough, but I don’t enjoying being mean. She’s got a job to do, I get it. She was in her twenties, well spoken – but clearly selling. And she was not giving up.  When she resigned herself to the fact that she was getting no where with me it happened – her fatal and final move. She asked if perhaps I wasn’t the decision maker in the home and if she should be speaking to my husband.  (Insert boiling blood here.) 

Let’s just say I did not kill her, but she also did not get the pleasure of speaking to my husband.  What happened to her fell somewhere in between. And she immediately left my porch.

The thorough training in sales she received was apparent.  She had a counter move to all of my objections… but for the last. And though she failed to “sell’ me,   I saw her VIVINT signs pop up around the neighborhood in the days to follow.

According to Wikipedia, in April 2010, “VIVINT settled with the state of Oregon for $60,000 over alleged aggressive sales tactics used by its agents. The company also agreed to change some of its sales tactics.” So hers were the new and improved tactics?  Ugh. There are many, many more accounts like these about this company  from other states.  To be fair there are good things about the company on Wikipedia as well. You can read that for yourself and decide.

After this experience, I finally thought to asked my friends at city hall about door to door sales, and what I learned I want to share.  Businesses must obtain a license from the city to solicit door to door.  The “salespeople” should carry something with them as proof of the registration. Here’s the process:

1. All legitimate companies obtain a permit via the business tax office.
2. Door-to-door sales people for that company are fingerprinted by the county, their driver’s licenses are photo copied by LPD and the business tax issues each sales person a permit with the company name and the salesperson’s name.
3. The sales people have to pick that permit up personally from the business tax office where they are instructed to carry it with them at all times and make it available to anyone who asks to see it.
4. They are also informed of the city’s rules for solicitation – not before 9am or after 6pm (not after 8pm during daylight savings)

There are VERY VERY FEW companies who have permits. Vivant (also known by their corporate name “Smart Home Pros”) does. These magazine companies DO NOT. Vivant is a legitimate company and has permits. If a salesperson is rude you can report them to the business tax office. Please get their name – it is on the permit. If you do not get a name, get a detailed description and note the time and date. The company knows what routes and times of their salespeople.

I am going to ask the business tax if they can post somewhere on the city web site when a business receives a permit to sell door to door. I think having a list would be helpful. The city says maybe 2-3 a year get permits.

If a solicitor is at your door first don’t open all the way always keep it chained. If you open the door at all, ALWAYS as for a full name and to see the permit. No permit? Close door OR let them know they are violating the law and that you plan to call the police, then shut the door. Note a description, date and time.

The vast majority of the folks who knock on our doors to sell us something are not legitimate. Many of our neighbors get taken. If you are uncomfortable with “being mean” or saying no, simply ask to see proof they are cleared to solicit in the city of Lakeland. If they can not provide you with the proper documentation,  you can nicely inform them that they are not allowed to sell door to door without it.  You can even be a real pal and mention you have neighbors who will report them and their company to the city, the better business bureau, and the police if necessary.  You would not be lying because you do have that “crazy” neighbor – me.

This should stop them in their tracks or at least get them off your porch quickly, and it gives you a reason to say “Good Day’, shut the door and feel like you have been helpful.

Kim Reddy is the business tax inspector who gave me this information. She can be reached at 834.6227 or

By Julie Townsend





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