Door-to-door in West Seattle: What you need to know about the rules

There’s been a resurgence of complaints/concerns about door-to-door solicitors in West Seattle lately. Some people have posted notes in the WSB Forums, but with more mentions showing up in all of our message boxes, from e-mail to Facebook to text, it seems like a good time to at least talk about the rules.

Most of the complaints we have heard have NOT been simply for the solicitation itself – but mostly because they were aggressive and/or rude. For example, we received this one today from Fauntleroy:

Just had an aggressive door to door magazine salesman in the last 30 minutes or so. Name Mike and claimed to be new here from South Carolina on a job program. No contact info or web information that could be looked up and referenced. He just had some magazine info of laminated paper and was pushing aggressively to try and get a donation/subscription.

He went away frustrated when I said I didn’t conduct any business from door to door sales.

The archives show it’s been a while since we recapped Seattle city law – so here again are the rules for door-to-door soliciting, aka “residential sales,” as shown in the Seattle Municipal Code. Key points to remember: If they are selling something, they must have licenses and IDs and they should not be the least bit reluctant to show both to you; 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. And if you suspect they’re not really soliciting, but perhaps casing – they jiggled the doorknob, for example – police say, don’t hesitate to call.

P.S. For even more details from SPD, see the second half of this Crime Prevention newsletter from last year (PDF).

33 Replies to "Door-to-door in West Seattle: What you need to know about the rules"

  • Morgan February 26, 2014 (2:06 pm)

    Did this happen last night? I had a young (18yr?) black male, white button down shirt, stocking cap, clip board at my door around 7:15 last night (Gatewood). Same thing, (through a glass,closed door) I told him to leave a brochure or an envelope, he said he didn’t have any, I told him I don’t give to orgs I can’t read about. He backed away from the door and started ranting that I “was scared of him because he was black and I’d open the door for a white guy”. Any idiot that comes to my property uninvited, then rants at me, is going have the cops called on him, which I promptly did.

  • Sandal40 February 26, 2014 (2:07 pm)

    I had an individual with the same song at my door Monday evening (North Admiral). I was home alone with my kids and I have to say that I am so glad to have my 100 lb dog answer the door with me. He did not even give me a moment to speak, went right on into his selling. when I told him I was not interested – not another word from him, just left.

    In the past I have encountered the same type of sales pitch, followed by attitude when asked to leave. The next house he went to he got into a argument with my neighbor and spit on his car – cops were called that time.

  • brian February 26, 2014 (2:43 pm)

    We had a few visitors last year. This past fall, I mounted a “No Solicitors” sign at the entrance of our front gate. We haven’t had any “sales” persons since. Occasionally, we get a flyer attached to our gate.

  • GF February 26, 2014 (2:52 pm)

    We also have had many solicitors in the Belvidere neighborhood as of late. I wish companies would realize that business is not done this way anymore. I don’t know anyone who buys products via door to door salespeople any more. Nor do people want to learn about any charitable organization by door to door people. Perhaps in a few more years this practice will vanish all together.

  • Seattlite February 26, 2014 (3:11 pm)

    That same guy w/the stocking cap came around the Seaview neighborhood about 1 week ago. I observed that he came around two separate times. If you weren’t home or didn’t answer your door he specifically returned to those houses. Very creepy.

  • miss.information February 26, 2014 (3:14 pm)

    Ugh. One of these guys came to my place on Monday. Wouldn’t leave until I finally subscribed to one mag (canceled yesterday) and gave him my number. I was running late to an appointment. He was nice, but I was uncomfortable. And apparently stupid. :(

  • enough February 26, 2014 (3:18 pm)

    Seems like these door to door solicitors would not be going door to door if it didn’t work. People are opening their doors and buying or donating, I guess, or solicitors wouldn’t do it. I’d like to say that we should all just not open our doors and the solicitors would go away BUT if someone is casing the house, as has been mentioned here before, then the homeowner could be setting themselves up for a break in. Maybe the answer is to say, “I can’t come to the door right now” .. this lets a would be burglar know the home is occupied and doesn’t allow the solicitor to be successful.
    I’ve had enough of this sort of crap.

  • Brian M. February 26, 2014 (3:28 pm)

    A rotund, black man of about 30 came by on Monday in the Fauntleroy neighborhood. He mentioned he was on some job program, and he had some witty lines. When I told him I wasn’t interested, he walked away, muttering angrily.

  • Eric February 26, 2014 (4:21 pm)

    I used to have people coming to my door, but I finally went to Home Depot and got a couple of the “No Soliciting” signs.

    Now the only people that sometimes come to my door are those trying to sell me their religion. Now if I could only get a sign for them too!

  • Joe February 26, 2014 (4:27 pm)

    Try saying: “I’m sorry, I can’t come to the door right now because I’m cleaning my shotgun”

  • fj February 26, 2014 (5:05 pm)

    I have a sign that says no soliciting – but has a picture of each for no: magazines, religion, politics.
    People always come up and say “but I’m not selling religion/politics” but they ARE. So annoying. Sign works great tho’! If they miss it, I just point at it through my LOCKED door.

  • aeb February 26, 2014 (5:12 pm)

    We turned away one of those solicitors on monday night in north admiral. Later we discovered that someone had thrown a large garbage can on top of our car. I doubt it was a coincidence :/

  • Eli February 26, 2014 (5:32 pm)

    We had a young man come to our door claiming to be selling windows. He knocked then retreated to the end of the walkway, a good 50′ away and spoke from there. When we quizzed him on his product (my wife and I are architects) he failed miserably and had no sales material. He asked if we would be home that weekend as well. We said yes but we’re not interested. My wife was leaving for the store and decided to follow him in our vehicle briefly. He actually ran a block, before doing the exact same thing to two more houses. She called the police and gave his description. He was clearly casing houses.
    I would recommend if you ever have someone like this, do not tell them your schedule and ask questions. Even if you have no detailed knowledge of a subject, any sales person worth their salt has material and a contact and should be able to answer product questions. If it comes to it, tell them you’re calling the police and do it!

  • kj February 26, 2014 (5:45 pm)

    Be very careful with these guys. We had someone come out from The United States Mission of Seattle. We did some research and they are a bit of half way house for criminals released from Seattle jails. Back in March of 2010 Komo 4 did a piece on the mission. The piece is scary because KOMO was able to confirm there were two level 2 sex offenders living in the mission house pandhandling door-to-door, along with felons. On the internet query “Jailhouse used to find door to door solicitors.” Its great these guys can have a short term place to stay, but they should be learning a trade other than pandhandling.

  • JayDee February 26, 2014 (5:47 pm)

    According to the newsletter you don’t need a Seller’s License if you are selling perishable goods. So you can still be offered meat for sale. Whew!

  • jc February 26, 2014 (5:48 pm)

    We too were visited 3 times in the last two days in North Admiral by agressive sales people… told them no thank you and they left mad. Found out our neighbor down the street was robbed this morning.

  • Dawn February 26, 2014 (7:34 pm)

    We also were visited by that gentleman in Gatewood. He was trying to get us to donate to a community out reach organization, yet had no written information. He also made a comment similar to the first comment but it was about me answering the door and to “not be scared by the uninvited big black guy”

  • Stop raining February 26, 2014 (7:41 pm)

    WSB, first time, long time. Y’all (Austin, Tx) need to turn it up a notch. We all have smart phones…I would click a snapshot of anyone not expected, if possible. Digital record now if funny business occurs. Ask them to hold on when they begin their pitch…excuse yourself, close door, grab phone, click. Always ask for credentials and id. Legit will not mind, something to hide will probably not be real comfortable.

  • LB February 26, 2014 (8:02 pm)

    I saw this person on SW Wildwood Place between 46th and 47th this evening around 5:20 or so. He tried to get me to buy a magazine (I declined) while I was walking towards the ferry dock. I may have seen the same guy on Fauntleroy south of Wildwood either yesterday or Monday evening.

  • West February 26, 2014 (8:26 pm)

    I got hit up by a guy selling magazines while out walking my two big dogs the other day, while obviously not at my house. He was a bit pushy….but didn’t attempt to rob me or anything. So some of these guys must actually be trying to sell ya crap. Door to door sales should be made illegal, it’s a invasion of your privacy.

    Crime is every where tho, everyone should take as many preventative measures as possible, I installed a security door at my back door which is off a alley, laminated the glass at all ground level windows (glass will not break free of the frame)…I even placed a few spent .40 cal casings strategically in my driveway off the alley, and if you have big dogs leave a few mangled up dog toys out. Anyone casing your place notices all this stuff, they’ll move on.

  • Civik February 26, 2014 (8:38 pm)

    Genessee area, have had two solicitors this week. One only seems to have attempted the houses that had their garbage cans still on the street Monday evening (both of us were home), the other was trying some crap about Chicago kids moving here earning points. Maybe I’m just scary, but they are usually prompt and polite when I say no.

  • A-Red February 26, 2014 (8:41 pm)

    “I can’t come to the door right now because I’m cleaning my shotgun.”

    I suppose if I were a criminal who wanted a gun, I know which house I’d start watching.

  • BMC February 26, 2014 (9:11 pm)

    Came to our house in Belvidere area this evening. Husband opened the door around 6:30. Black young man, with a cap, sweaty, maybe a hoody with the hood down. Selling magazines. Another neighbor reported that someone was running erratically from house to house around the same time.

  • KN February 26, 2014 (9:27 pm)

    We had two different men from the same magazine sales company come by our house (Fauntleroy) this afternoon. One (Cecil) came a little before 4:00, a second (DeMichael) came by around 5:15pm. Both were friendly, although definitely had a strong pitch and did a lot of talking before I could get a word in. Both were definitely pushing hard for a sale (no info to leave behind, no website for me to look up,) but neither one did or said anything threatening or aggressive. Seemed like two guys in kind of a sucky job to me, who need to communicate better so they don’t overlap houses in the same afternoon.

  • DupedOnce February 26, 2014 (9:27 pm)

    Glad WSB is here so neighbors can share this information.

    No question about it: if the people coming to your door have no verifiable information, they are not legit. Period.

    Call the cops.

  • sophista-tiki February 27, 2014 (1:50 am)

    I just don’t answer the door when I’m not expecting someone. I spy on them from the side of the house while my 100 lb black German Shepard visibly barks at them from the livingroom window. I’m not scared of anyone who could come to my door but any wiff of bull from them and we are going to end up in an argument while I question everything they throw at me. I work at home so I find it extrememly irritating to be interrupted for nothing. Door to door anything is suspect in my book. Organizations should know better by now.

  • Brian February 27, 2014 (7:36 am)

    @Brian M.

    I had the same gentleman visit my house last week (larger black guy in a skull cap) and when I told him that we were in the middle of dinner (which was the honest truth), he was really polite and went along his way.

    Maybe I caught him at the beginning of his rounds before he started getting frustrated? I was really surprised that he didn’t try to continue his sales pitch and didn’t seem to be miffed at all that I didn’t have time for him.

  • Lindsey February 27, 2014 (10:11 am)

    I had a kid (small boy, definitely a child) come to my door last week, raising money for his school by selling candy, maybe? I don’t remember. I feel so sorry for the kids who have to do that. Better off kids just get their parents to take their sheet to the office, and poor kids have to actually trek door to door. I’ve been there and it sucks. Are there schools that are really still asking students to do this?! Next time I’ll remember which school he said he was from.

  • seaopgal February 27, 2014 (2:32 pm)

    I was watching TV the other night, and every 10-12 minutes these pushy salespeople came on, trying to get me to buy stuff that I don’t want, don’t need, and didn’t ask for. Do people still respond to this type of solicitation? It was really annoying, and no matter how often I told them I wasn’t interested, they just kept interrupting what I was doing. Rude! Most of them were slim and white, not too many looked homeless. Maybe I should call the police next time?

  • bbuddy February 27, 2014 (3:20 pm)

    A-red’s comment is funny…“I can’t come to the door right now because I’m cleaning my shotgun.”

    and then I might add “can’t come to the door because I am trying to catch my poisonous snake that got loose in the house when you called me to the door1!!”.

    I had 2 solicitors last week. They were with different organizations looking for donations. I never open the door and never buy from door to door people. I tell them this “is our strict policy”. It always surprises me when they come after dark particularly — ugh. I will be polite and ask them to leave literature for me to review which usually they do not. Some have been rude or aggressively persistent despite being told ‘no.

    Just an FYI — Girl Scouts are out selling cookies door to door right now.

  • South Delridge Gal February 27, 2014 (10:24 pm)

    I live in South Deridge and yesterday afternoon a 50ish African American woman dressed in black clothing came up my walk and stood in front of door for a moment. I opened the inner door partway and she asked if I needed yard work done. She was not wearing work cloths or had tools. She looked high. I said no, I was off work and home now. She asked if my neighbors were home. I said, yes, probably but they manage their own yards. I doubt they were home mid-day but I didn’t want to say that if she was casing. She said she needed money to catch bus downtown. As she walked away she turned towards the backyard instead of street. I was about to tell her to turn around but my big dog in backyard barked and she walked off quickly. Is this sort of thing illegal or just suspect?

  • WedgwoodGirl March 3, 2014 (9:45 pm)

    They have officially moved over here to the Wedgwood neighborhood. The kid that came to my door was so nice, until I told him that I didn’t want any part of giving him money. Then he started ranting about going back to selling crack and letting his daughter starve. The kid had some major anger management issues.

  • Bill March 15, 2014 (12:25 pm)

    I had the totally opposite impression when the Meat Man came to our door. My wife and my three kids were doing yard work. I was loading leaves into my truck. This nice guy came by and started helping us. He was saying that he did the same thing at his house. He delivers Steaks and Chicken to my neighbor Jim and his family. He did have a good inventory in his freezer truck. Looking at the Steaks and Chicken they had were USDA inspected “choice” grade.
    I liked the taste, the tenderness, the convenience and price per Steak. Yumm Now Stan delivers to us once a month and our family eats all natural beef and free range chicken.
    It nice to see people like Stan who go out and work for a living to support his family. We buy local and support our community.

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