Door-to-door alerts: Solicitor reports, and the rules

May 1, 2012 at 10:42 pm | In Door-to-door alert, West Seattle news | 24 Comments

Over the past few days, we’ve received multiple reports of door-to-door solicitors – or people claiming to be – working this area. Ahead, some of those reports, and a reminder about the rules, in case somebody turns up at your door:

First, Keith reports what he believes to have been a case of casing rather than selling:

Caught two men in their early 20s casing our house near 40th and Dakota as my partner and I pulled out from the alley. They quickly lit cigarettes as we sat in the alley for a moment. Then when pulled out into the street to see where they were headed, one of them waved me over to ask “which way is Alaska?” They claimed to be out in the neighborhood selling magazines, but had no ID, clipboard, bags, etc. Called it in to the non-emergency number. Both Caucasian, with close-cropped brown hair, one in a black hoodie.

NW in Belvidere wrote:

Just wanted to say (with a bit of embarrassment) that I think I just fell victim to a scam and I’d like to get the word out to prevent others from doing the same. Two youths came to the door with a routine about selling magazine subscriptions and books in order to win a trip to Rome. They were very quick talkers and gave a whole spiel about learning public speaking and that sort of thing. The first bit of the routine was inquiring about my career and supposedly they get points based on the people they meet in various careers. They then proceeded with the sales pitch for magazine & book sales with options to get the subscription for myself or donate it to the troops or VA hospitals. I am embarrassed to admit I gave them money (not the full $40 for a magazine subscription they wanted) but still…

After they left – he looked up the company name, Blue Diamond, and discovered an “F” with the Better Business Bureau, plus a report from one month ago that its two founders were in legal trouble.

An Arbor Heights resident also e-mailed to say he was solicited to buy magazines from somebody from a different company that he looked up and found disturbing information about. (We couldn’t find that information corroborated online, so we’re not using the company’s name.)

Then there’s W, who says his neighborhood has had multiple waves of solicitors:

We have just had the third group of young adults in three days trying to sell us magazines. The first and second group wanted to meet 15 non-violent people in the neighborhood for an assignment and then out came the plastic coated magazine cards while the third couple had a different scam. They wanted money for a trip to Prague for a Youth Leadership Conference in June. Both of them were U of W students and in the Foster school of Business. They “lived down the street” and most of the neighbors didn’t want the magazines and just wanted to donate money. When asked for ID and City of Seattle permit to sell they had neither. We called U of W School of Business and they confirmed there was a conference in July/August. There had been other calls from Mercer Island last week asking the same questions. Beware

The city rules for door-to-door soliciting, aka “residential sales,” are here. Among the big ones: They need licenses and IDs; hours are restricted to 8 am-9 pm; if you have a “no soliciting” sign, they’re supposed to leave you alone. But if someone is simply asking for a charity contribution, they do NOT require a license. For a summary of the rules, check this report from our friends at MyBallard.com.

24 Comments

  1. I was wondering about this. I live in North Admiral. Two young girls came to my front door last Saturday afternoon claiming they lived on Beach Drive with a pitch about “earning points” for a contest and wanting to interview me about my “cool career.” They were talking a mile a minute and I found it unnerving. Told them I was busy and couldn’t help them and they walked away (after I shut the door).

    Comment by Global Gal — 7:16 am May 2, 2012 #

  2. It’s time to outlaw door-to-door solicitors. Does anyone really want them?

    Comment by marty — 8:34 am May 2, 2012 #

  3. Two young men came to my door Friday afternoon (on Beach Dr) & since I was expecting Comcast repair service I opened the door. They said they were getting acquainted with their neighbors? I quickly shut the door and they left. I did not feel good about this and felt they were up to no good..

    Comment by LongTimer WS — 8:56 am May 2, 2012 #

  4. He came to my door yesterday while I was in the back yard. Caught him looking inside my windows. White, crew cut, about 20 wearing black hoodie and blue jeans. Gave me the whole speel about living up the street and he was raising money to go to Europe. I asked him questions and he said he was becoming “irritated” because I was basically calling him a liar, which I was. I told him he’d better get off my property, quit saying bro, and as he walked away, I told him to pull his pants up:-) I followed him in my vehicle and called the police when I saw him trying it up the street from me. I am in Fauntlee Hills.

    T

    Comment by cup a' — 9:01 am May 2, 2012 #

  5. He came to my door yesterday while I was in the back yard. Caught him looking inside my windows. White, crew cut, about 20 wearing black hoodie and blue jeans. Gave me the whole speel about living up the street and he was raising money to go to Europe. I asked him questions and he said he was becoming “irritated” because I was basically calling him a liar, which I was. I told him he’d better get off my property, quit saying bro, and as he walked away, I told him to pull his pants up:-) I followed him in my vehicle and called the police when I saw him trying it up the street from me. I am in Fauntlee Hills.

    These punks need a good ass whoopin.” I’m twice his size and I was waiting for him to start something because the police will not respond to this kind of call.

    Comment by cup a' — 9:11 am May 2, 2012 #

  6. The same two fast-talking young women came to my door on Beach Dr Sat night. When I told them I didn’t want to buy any magazines, they got a whole lot less friendly and left. At least I did not let them in the house.

    Comment by Lesave — 9:31 am May 2, 2012 #

  7. There’s a lot of info about these crews of young solicitors on-line. The crew bosses generally recruit vulnerable, often runaways or homeless youth. Drug use and sex abuse are rampant. The young people are packed into one or two motel rooms, and charged exorbitant rates for their food and shelter; it’s a company store (or pimping) operation, through which their debt grows, rather than decreasing.
    The magazines are paying a contractor, who in turn, subcontracts with a crew boss, rather than paying the young people. This is how the magazine companies maintain arm’s length distance from the practices of the crews.
    It is deeply disturbing and sad.

    Comment by KatieH — 10:24 am May 2, 2012 #

  8. I had three young boys come to my door (near 35th and Alaska) just a few days ago telling me that they needed money for summer camp and were asking for donations. I watched them walk down the street after I said no, and they didn’t stop at any other houses. I have a rule that I don’t give to solicitors in general and only donate to organizations that I know.

    Comment by LS — 12:05 pm May 2, 2012 #

  9. I had the same thing happen over the weekend. Two 20 something guys were going door to door in my neighborhood. One had a tattoo on his neck and in a hoodie. He was fast talking and gave me the same story about needing to collect points to get a trip to London. He showed me a old laminated folded paper with books on it and told me the books would be given to Children’s Hospital. He also said he is trying to get comfortable talking to people by making conversation and finding out what they do for work. I am so sick of these solicitors! I saw these guys the next day by Alki knocking on a door and looked suspicious when we walked by.

    Comment by Lseattle — 12:34 pm May 2, 2012 #

  10. I own a Children’s store in West Seattle and was approached by to men in there early twentys yesterday around 3:30 pm. One had Blue Guages in his ear(This is a good way to know if it is the same person) He wanted to use my cell phone. When I said no, he left but his friend lingered. After they were both gone some of my regular customers came in.. I was telling them how strange it was. One of my customers lives 3 blocks away and she said he was just knocking on her door as well. Please be carefull as it is obvious they are up to no good!

    Comment by wsmom — 12:57 pm May 2, 2012 #

  11. Respectfully, I think the First Amendment wants door-to-door solicitors. We can opt-out by displaying a No Soliciting notice, but banning the practice outright restricts free speech.

    Comment by Delridge Denizen — 1:24 pm May 2, 2012 #

  12. Should I beat them with my little sign when they ignore it…. which is what usually happens…… good lord… Clearly people don’t want to be bothered at home and clearly we live in a society where people have their guard up. Even IF this is Legit!.. they won’t get far in this day and age…. It’s just the world we live in…. 30 years ago, maybe door to door was the way to go … but not anymore…

    Comment by Jtk — 1:51 pm May 2, 2012 #

  13. Does anyone know what was going on about 5 pm yesterday. I heard sirens for abouit 30 minutes.

    Comment by dee kalani — 3:13 pm May 2, 2012 #

  14. That would have been the fire we covered – see the TOP STORIES list on the sidebar for the link.

    Comment by WSB — 3:17 pm May 2, 2012 #

  15. Had a couple visits from solicitors, one on Sunday afternoon, then this past Monday evening. One individual each occasion, either teenagers or in early 20s. Both times they started with “you’ve probably already had other people stop by”. They mentioned some sort of “project”, but I never let them get further with their spiel and closed the door on them.

    Comment by Jeff — 3:37 pm May 2, 2012 #

  16. Had a report when I was out of town about one of these guys. I live on 14th sw

    Comment by Nick — 3:38 pm May 2, 2012 #

  17. I was confronted with a similar fast talker with a laminated card, said he was working toward a trip to London and a $1,000.00. Short Blond hair, ‘Beavers’ jacket. Just would not go away. In the Beach Drive area.

    Comment by Charlie — 3:47 pm May 2, 2012 #

  18. seem guy as the children store owner described knocked on my door. He had the worst story, told him to leave! he did and didn’t knock on any other doors on our street.

    Comment by ams — 3:52 pm May 2, 2012 #

  19. Delridge Denizen: Please read ALL of the comments and see how many of us don’t agree with the rights you describe. I think most of us would like to see door-to-door end. The days of Ozzie and Harriet are way in the past…

    Comment by marty — 4:33 pm May 2, 2012 #

  20. The Supreme Court disagrees with you, Delridge Denizen, unless the solicitation is noncommercial or religious in nature. Though it did overturn an ordinance requiring solicitors to register in Stratton, OH, such as we have here in Seattle.
    .
    More disturbing to me are the cases such as KatieH describes; there’s quite a lot out there about them if you do a little searching.

    Comment by datamuse — 9:32 am May 3, 2012 #

  21. I’ve learned that some of these “youngsters” don’t know what “No Solicitors” means. Or so they say.

    Comment by artsea — 9:41 am May 3, 2012 #

  22. One of these characters was working the neighborhood around 47th Ave SW and 98th SW this morning, Friday 5/4. “going to school in Prague, and knows our neighbor Dr. Blanchard on 50th SW”. A pushy, lying scumbag.

    Comment by ARE YOU KIDDING? — 1:38 pm May 4, 2012 #

  23. They came to my door on wed night around 8 pm.
    same line of bs. We had this happen about a year ago and
    the kid would not leave and tried to “shake us down” for our
    car. Call the police…this is a huge scam.

    Comment by Marianne — 7:24 pm May 4, 2012 #

  24. We had two of these come by yesterday evening (AK Junction), a young woman and a guy she told us was her brother. She did all the talking, afterall she was the UW Art student with the assignment to meet 100 of her neighbors. She said they lived on Hudson and she was trying to get to someplace (London, maybe?). I didn’t hear much of her spiel because was trying to get my kid away from the door and my husband to close it. She said to me, “Oh, you’ve heard of us?” and held out a laminated card with with art-studenty doodles on it. I didn’t take it or ask for more info, so she pulled it back and explained, “Yeah, our sponsor isn’t doing a very good job…” She and “her brother” left without a fuss and met up with another guy, chatting in front of our house for 5 minutes. They acknowledged us watching them, but that didn’t move them on.

    Her tactic was different, not fast talking at all (afterall she was an “art student” rather than a “business student”). She showed a laidback, almost defeated attitude. And having her “brother” accompany her was bit disarming, like she wanted to be safe from us! Very slick in an opposite of fast-talking salesy way.

    Comment by MercyMoi — 6:32 am May 15, 2012 #

Sorry, comment time is over.

All contents copyright 2014, A Drink of Water and a Story Interactive. Here's how to contact us.
Header image by Nick Adams. ABSOLUTELY NO WSB PHOTO REUSE WITHOUT SITE OWNERS' PERMISSION.
Entries and comments feeds. ^Top^