Door-to-door alert: Selling security? Plus, legit light bulbs

From a WSB’er who wants to be anonymous, a disturbing door-to-door visit – plus, a door-to-door note about someone who probably IS legit – both ahead:

First, the disturbing visit – which could have been legit, but the sender wanted to share word in case it wasn’t:

We’re in Highland Park on 12th Ave SW and just had someone from Honeywell Security offer a free security installation in exchange for displaying a sign. The sign he showed me looked a little worn out, which was when I thought something was fishy. I refused any services, then he went on to ask if I knew of any elderly people on the block who might be interested in a service “like Life Alert.” I told him I didn’t and watched him walk away from our house without knocking on any other doors, so I called the non-emergency line with the Seattle Police and gave them a description. I am kicking myself for not slamming the door on this guy from the get-go (he ignored our “No Solicitors” sign). We had a break-in a couple of years ago and a visit from “ADT” about two weeks before the hit and the Blog had reported a number of break-ins within blocks of our house just days beforehand, so I fear we’re being cased again.

Now, the note about someone who likely IS legit. We got a Facebook note from Nicole, worried about someone who wanted to come into her home to replace light bulbs. From the other descriptive points she included, it sounds like it was a rep from the Seattle City Light “Powerful Neighborhoods” program, which was expanding further into our area last time we checked. You can read more about the program here (it includes contact info, if you have a question). We took a closer look at the program back in July, when more workers were being trained and the area expansion was announced.

16 Replies to "Door-to-door alert: Selling security? Plus, legit light bulbs"

  • Sarah September 21, 2010 (11:26 pm)

    We had a similar encounter with a security service about a year ago in North Admiral. We had a different security service and he wanted us to switch and show the sign to let the neighbors know. We declined. He named people in the neighborhood he was already working with but I did not recognize the names.

  • Fellow Citizen September 22, 2010 (6:07 am)

    hmmm …. came home 2 nights ago and there was a guy in our neighborhood with some sort of security sigh under his arm and a clipboard in his hand … talking with a neighbor … I always get a little freaky about this! Guess I’ll talk to my neighbor and ask questions! Had a guy a few years ago wanting to come in and “adjust” and check out our alarm system, said he was from our alarm company. No ID, no paperwork. Just dressed nicely. I didn’t let him in, didn’t call the police. Should have. He also asked me if their were any “elderly folks” in the neighborhood!

  • CurlyQ September 22, 2010 (6:39 am)

    Legit or not, door-to-door is very freaky way to sell a security system. We had some legit folks a few years ago at our door in the Fairmount Springs neighborhood. I was so disturbed I called the company and spoke with the regional sales manager to register my discontent. He told me that, though he understood my concerns (e.g. single parents with small children or elderly folks opening doors to strangers, being asked about the security status of the house, legit folks making it easier for criminals to appear legit to access this info, etc.), that door-to-door was their most lucrative sales approach, and wasn’t likely to end soon. Urgh.
    Our best defense is twofold: a) simply don’t open the door to ANY stranger, and b) if you must open the door, DON”T BUY ANYTHING!!!

  • Cclarue September 22, 2010 (7:04 am)

    The security thing is a scam a while back there was coverage here on this very thing the people who let them put up signs then were robbed. Call the police when you see these people or at least get some ID, credentials, solicitors permit or whatever but never ever let someone (a stranger)in your home that you did not invite!!

  • HolyKow September 22, 2010 (8:59 am)

    I have this link from the Ranier Valley Post about a block captain calling the cops on a person that was fishy and that story…it provides awesome data on what the D2D people should have on them when they approach your door. Badges (tho must think ‘they don’t need no stinking badges!’), ID numbers, pictures, company names. They also provide direct contact number to the department that monitors those things.

    Did you know that is is not LEGAL for them to solicit when you have a no solicitors sign up…you are within your rights to call the cops if they do so…anything before 8A and after 9P, call the cops, not legal.

    And since I am one of those hated people that always refers to those pesky “Laws” and SMCs specifically…why disappoint!


    SMC 6.260.050 Unlawful acts.

    It is unlawful for any residential seller or agent to:

    A. Make untrue, deceptive, or misleading statements about the product or services sold for the purposes of procuring a sale or offer for sale;

    B. Make any untrue, deceptive, or misleading statement regarding the purposes of his/her contact with a potential customer;

    C. Sell before eight (8:00) a.m. or after nine (9:00) p.m. of any day without the specific prior consent of the prospective buyer;

    D. Attempt to gain admittance for the purpose of selling at any residence at which a sign bearing the words “no peddlers,” “no solicitors,” or words of similar import is posted, unless at the invitation or with the consent of the occupant thereof.

    SMC 6.260.040 License — Required — Exceptions.

    It is unlawful for any person to engage in business as a residential seller in the City without first obtaining a residential sales license therefor; provided, that no license shall be required for:

    A. Any person selling newspapers, or fresh or perishable food items; or

    B. Any person holding a home sales party; or

    C. Any person who acts as a residential seller on behalf of a licensee; or

    D. Any person who, as an agent, acts as a peddler on behalf of a regulated utility; or

    E. Any person who merely solicits orders for goods, which orders are to be accepted and goods delivered at a future time from a place outside of Washington State.

  • Jim P. September 22, 2010 (12:04 pm)

    Want an easy test to see if they are legit? Get a cheap digital camera and keep it handy and get familiar wiht using it quickly.

    When they start their pitch, let them know you will need to take their picture for security purposes.

    Be firm, no picture, no listen to sales pitch etc.

    The non-legit will likely either hem and haw or simply leave in haste. Rather a few legit ones will also demur which will be a nice bonus.

    Try and get a picture regardless, it’s your home, they have no legitmate expectation of privacy at your doorstep in my (non-lawyer) opinion. if they leave in a vehicle try to snap the license plate.

    If you can get a photo I.D., hang on to it during the conversation, if they ask, tell them it will be returned once you are convinced they are legitimate. make sure the picture is of the person in question.

    The trick here is to say “Let me have your I.D.” as opposed to “Show me your I.D.” You want it in your hands.

    Remember, you have no obligation to be polite to strangers at your door and you do have real obligations to your family to keep them secure.

    Door to door salespeople are the original spammers: You didn’t invite them to come by, you owe them nothing.

  • Scott September 22, 2010 (12:59 pm)

    My wife said she had someone come up to our door this week trying to sell a security system. I told her next time not to open the door and just say not intrested. I don’t like the sound of this and still want to know if this is legit. It was near Denny MS.

  • CMeagh September 22, 2010 (2:56 pm)

    Jim P. – Good advice. Very well put.

  • lg September 22, 2010 (3:22 pm)

    We had a phone call a couple of days ago offering a free security system for placing a sign in our yard. Wonder if it’s related.

  • MJB September 22, 2010 (3:46 pm)

    I’m near 34th and Henderson, and we had someone from Seattle City Light Powerful Neighborhoods program come by last night. Really nice guy, had ID and a Seattle City Light Shirt. The program is giving away light bulbs, low flow shower heads, etc. He’ll even replace your old bulbs and install the news ones for you all over the house, if you want. Or he’ll leave them for you to install. Great program, so I suggest not turning them away.

  • nighthawk September 22, 2010 (10:26 pm)

    I had someone ring and then when I didn’t answer knock today. It was a nicely dressed guy with a clip board. I couldn’t see any identifying marks on the guy and just didn’t answer.

  • Neighbor September 23, 2010 (7:38 am)

    We got a visit last Thursday afternoon (7700 block 31st SW) and a friend said she did too, over the weekend (one block north on 34th). After a pushy sales pitch, I insisted on his card. This guy compared his company and service to Honeywell (authorized dealer?), but wasn’t Honeywell. “Less known, trying to get the name out.” Thus the offer to give us a free basic system in exchange for putting a sign in our yard. His card reads Northstar Alarm Services, Danny Stoddart, Regional Marketing Director. Company appears to be legit online, but with a lot of complaints all across the country. I will be checking with the company directly about whether this particular guy is their employee. His business card doesn’t have an employee id number on it (which their website requires for quick online verification).

  • Jim P. September 23, 2010 (2:52 pm)

    I concur on the City Light operation. Spoke with one Javier yesterday (22nd) and he was polite, had credentials and so on. Got some free light bulbs and they have water-saving stuff also. Will replace bublbs if you want but does not insist on coming in..I suspect, being human, he is happy not to have do extra work to get his job done.

  • (required) September 23, 2010 (8:38 pm)

    Ditto the kind words to Jim P.

    FYI, tonite, Thursday nite, about 8:00, Asian kid came with clip board to the door. Near 35th and Barton, near Tony’s produce.

  • MB October 6, 2010 (3:02 pm)

    I can’t speak to other people who are out in the neighborhood knocking on doors, but Nathan from Northstar is not a scammer (he’s the clipboard guy in Highland Park). I am also VERY weary of any door to door solicitors and am not a fan AT ALL of door to door sales tactics…especially for security systems because I’ve read about scams before. But I felt compelled to get on here and let everyone know that this person from this particular company IS legit after I saw the original post. We have been wanting a security system for a while (12th Ave. in Highland Park) and we ended up taking him up on the offer after meeting for over an hour and knowing that our neighbors already had one of their systems and just had it updated the other day. I am not for one second saying you should let your guard down because one person is actually doing what they say they are, but again, Nathan from Northstar was VERY nice, VERY professional, VERY accommodating, wore a uniform and badge and WAS NOT pushy AT ALL! We even chatted about how your are screwed in this neighborhood if you piss someone off or freak them out, because of the blog. They installed our system that night and we couldn’t be happier so far (installation guy was great too). Obviously, I’ll let ya know if that changes, but in THIS case, I’m really glad I listened to my gut and didn’t just automatically turn him away (and god forbid call the cops on him…which is totally something I would do…that would have sucked because he really is a nice guy!).

  • Neighbor October 20, 2010 (5:49 pm)

    Hi everyone – following up on my post from Sept 23 re: Danny Stoddart/Northstar. I did write to the company, and they responded not just once but to a follow-up email as well. They confirmed Mr. Stoddart is a Northstar employee and that the services being offered were legitimate. They asked for me to detail how the encounter went, and once they had that, they confirmed they would follow up with their employee. Lastly, they assured me that they take complaints seriously because a large part of their business relies on the door-to-door sales model.

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