Door-to-door solicitors? Here are the rules

The holiday season seems to have brought an uptick in door-to-door soliciting in West Seattle – we’ve received several messages with concerns/questions in the past few days, like this one from Mark in Gatewood:

We had three separate attempts for solicitation over a two-hour period starting just after dark. We did not answer, but could see it was two men. Loud, insistent knocking.

We later called a neighbor who answered and were told they said they were from CenturyLink.

I know there have been other reports in the past about them, just wanted to give a heads up in case others were concerned or worried.

Very disconcerting. Amazing to think that any reputable company would send its employees out like that, after dark on a Friday night.

That’s the most common report we’ve been getting, but others have mentioned people trying to sell magazines. We have no way of telling you whether the person at your door is or is not legit, but here are some of the major rules about door-to-door selling in Seattle, which we recap every few months when the inquiries start peaking again:

*Door-to-door (residential) selling is allowed between 8 am-9 pm.

*The entity for whom the seller is working has to have a license, and the seller (agent) must have ID showing the license and the agent’s name: “All licensees and agents shall conspicuously display on their outer clothing their residential sales license or residential sales agent licenses when selling.” If you choose to open the door, ask to see it immediately: “Each residential seller or agent shall, immediately upon contacting the prospective buyer, disclose to the prospective buyer his/her name, company, and the product or service represented.”

*Solicitors are required to honor a “no soliciting” sign if you have one. Whether you do or don’t, they’re also required to honor this part of the code: “If requested to do so, (the agent) shall leave the premises immediately.”

Read the full set of rules by going here.. And note the city says they don’t apply to sellers of “newspapers, or fresh or perishable food items”; nor is a license required for a person who turns up at your door seeking charity donations.

If you do buy something from a solicitor, you have cancellation rights.

46 Replies to "Door-to-door solicitors? Here are the rules"

  • RR November 27, 2016 (10:36 am)

    We had almost the exact experience about a month ago in Westwood. Two men, from century link, after dark knocked on the door despite having a clearly marked no soliciting sign on our front door. I peeked out to see who it was but ignored the first time. They came back about an hour later and this time we answered the door and firmly but politely pointed out the no soliciting sign. One of the men brushed this off by saying “that’s fine” and continued with his sales pitch until my husband gave him another firm but polite no thank you. Unbelievably they came back less than an hour later! When I looked out the window next to the door to confirm it was the same two men, one of them tried pointing out my cat on the stoop as an enticement for me to open my door. I was more firm and less polite this time and actually did ask and obtain his name and license info before sending them off. I called century link and reported the behavior and was given assurances it would be reported to a field manager. Looks like the behavior is still on going for this company in particular.

    • Andy November 28, 2016 (8:58 am)

      My telephone service is with Century Link, but I have  had exactly the same experience with Century Link. Two very persistent solicitors pounded on my locked screen door. I went to the door and listened to their sales pitch in which they wanted me to also sign up for their TV and internet service. At first I was polite, but after their second visit, in which they again persistently pounded on my door, and even more persistently made their sales pitch for me to “bundle” all of their services with them,  I had to emphatically insist that they get off my porch and not to come back. 

      Recently, my Century Link telephone service was down for 2 days before I could get anyone from Century Link to respond. They finally sent two people out and spent about half an hour looking around before they decided they’d have to have “maintenance” come out. The next day a maintenance person came out and spent about 4 hours searching for the problem. He finally decided that squirrels had chewed through their fibre optic  lines and even showed me an I-phone picture of the damage. He then said that since it was getting dark he’d have to come back the next day. 

      The next day he came out again, and after several hours he drove away. I then tried my phone , expecting it to be repaired, only to find I still had no telephone service. I called Century Link and found out that the so called “maintenance”man had not only not re connected me, he also had closed the repair order! All of this after not even bothering to find out if my phone service had been re-connected.

      Finally, the next day, after another heated exchange with Century Link and insisting that I still had no telephone service, they actually sent a real maintenance team out and got the job done.

      As it turned out, it was not a problem with squirrels. Instead, water had gotten into a neighbor’s line, putting his phone out of order, and in the process of taking care of him, they had somehow  disconnected my telephone.

      I am still with Century Link for my telephone service, but only because Comcast cannot hook my old land line, one I’ve had since the 1950s, to their underground line. After my recent experiences with Century Link, there is no way on this planet that I will use Century Link for my TV and internet service.

  • Double Dub Resident November 27, 2016 (10:42 am)

    Soliciting is defined as to ask or try to obtain something from somebody.

      I wish this would apply to other people coming to my door like religion and /or political issues as both are trying to obtain something from me,  whether it’s religious membership or a signature /donation /promise of vote 

  • no thanks November 27, 2016 (10:56 am)

    solicitors who have come to my front door from century link are persistent and don’t always leave when asked. i have had to be blunt and rude to them, stopping the conversation and closing the door almost in their face, to get them to leave.

    they do not take no for an answer and want to engage you in conversation which is annoying if you’ve already made it clear you’re not interested.

  • KM November 27, 2016 (11:16 am)

    It definitely make sense they would come to solicit at dark. Sunset is much earlier at the time of year and people work during the day.

  • George November 27, 2016 (12:12 pm)

    We live in Gatewood and on two separate occasions Centurylink folks have ignored our No Soliciting sign and when I answer the door they ignore when I point it out. They say “I understand but I wanted to make you aware of….” They are clearly not honoring the No Soliciting sign. Are there ramifications for this?

    • WSB November 27, 2016 (12:21 pm)

      It’s a violation of the Municipal Code, so you could tell them you’re calling the police if they don’t leave. (We do hear scanner dispatches for aggressive solicitors. Obviously life-safety calls are priority so the response depends on what else is going on.) Better still, report them to CL – they have a customer service hotline.

    • At Least It's An Ethos... November 27, 2016 (1:14 pm)

      File a consumer complaint with the city and state Attorney General.  That’s the only way I got CenturyLink to honor the initial two year agreement I had with them.  They start jumping through hoops like crazy at that point to make you happy.

  • WSEA November 27, 2016 (12:21 pm)

    I’ve had 4 of them this year and its getting old.  The sales people have no clue what they are selling.  I’ve had to explain to them that the new fiber cable requires a couple boxes to be mounted to your house.  I’m not willing to mount them on my old brick house.   I’ve asked them to take me off their list but that is not working either. 

    • chemist November 27, 2016 (12:59 pm)

      Their default method of installation in the area is to have a grey box installed on the exterior (similar to what Comcast does), but it’s possible to run the fiber optics into a house and use an Optical Network Terminal that’s designed for indoors, which is about the size of a Comcast Cable Modem.

       Here’s what Centurylink’s ONT looks like (I have an interior model that’s similar).

  • Marty November 27, 2016 (12:25 pm)

    It is WAY past time to outlaw door-to-door soliciting. Nobody really wants to be bothered and it is also used to case homes for burglary. Enough!

  • flimflam November 27, 2016 (12:31 pm)

    regardless of what they are selling, “offering”, or if its a political cause (even one that I may agree with) I will immediately cut the person off and explain in a clear yet not rude manner that I am not interested. some are content to move on while others may take another try, but I think its an invasive and rude sales strategy…

    I’ve had some folks mutter or get mildly upset, but to my surprise, the most volatile incident involved a middle aged guy trying to talk about some issue that I was actually sympathetic to (can’t recall exactly, but some political cause). he was badgering me as to why I wouldn’t talk to him, sign his petition, whatever and would not leave my porch until I started to get a bit more forceful and loud. as he left he was shouting at me, etc –   

  • Jeff November 27, 2016 (12:46 pm)

    Century Link is the worst.  They have, on 3 separate occasions, completely ignored our No Soliciting sign and when I have asked them if they saw the sign, they say “yes, but…”.  

    There is no respect for posted signage.  You would also think that having turned them down 3 times they might have taken me off their list by now.

  • Lizette November 27, 2016 (1:14 pm)

    I had awful experiences with Century Link last year…they came to my door three times in three days even though I told them to GO AWAY.

  • Mike November 27, 2016 (1:32 pm)

    Most of these people are not even CenturyLink employees, they are contracting out to another company to handle solicitation of sales and provide these people with jackets, badges and sales paperwork.  I signed up to switch over, when the install guy never showed up on the date set to install my new fiber connection, I called.  The work order was ‘never completed’.  Basically it was started and the person that came to my door never completed the entire order.  So they made their quota and I got nothing but lost time and headaches.  CenturyLink lost my business.

  • morgan November 27, 2016 (1:58 pm)

    i’ve been getting less coherent door to dooor solicitations in gatewood. they take a long time to get to the point before revealing it’s magazine subscriptions. very obtrusive and annoying; not sure if there is a way to stop it.

  • Driver November 27, 2016 (2:01 pm)

    If people stopped opening their doors, solicitors would go away, there would be no market. 

    Of of course it’s important to let potential casers know that someone is home.

    • AMD November 27, 2016 (2:30 pm)

      I don’t know about you, but Century Link will knock.  And then knock again.  And then ring the doorbell.  And then knock louder.  And then ring the doorbell again.  It’s quicker to just open the door and tell them off (which I don’t feel at all bead about doing since I’ve asked nicely no less than three times now to be added to the “do not knock” list).

      Ignoring them works for normal solicitors, but CenturyLink is their own kind of special.  Frankly I’d welcome the casers after spending the better part of a day and a half chasing CLink away.

      • Driver November 27, 2016 (2:34 pm)

        Yeah they are annoyingly persistent. Clink needs to reign them in but money talks so I doubt they or solicitors will change.

      • Double Dub Resident November 27, 2016 (4:23 pm)

        Um.. yeah….. be careful what you wish for 

        • Driver November 27, 2016 (6:48 pm)


  • daisyg November 27, 2016 (2:28 pm)

    Two weeks ago, my teen son answered the door to a Centurylink rep, thinking it was his friend who was due at our house.

    I was in the middle of finishing up some work, so my son told her that I was not available. The rep started badgering my son, asking if his dad was home, what dates/times his parents would be home and available to talk, would they be home tomorrow morning, Friday afternoon, Saturday morning?

    Mortified at what I was hearing, I came to the door, checked their ID, and told her very strongly that is was COMPLETELY inappropriate to be asking ANYONE who answered the door what days/time they would be home or gone.

    Her response? “I’m sorry I offended you.” Her response angered me even more, so I let her know clearly that I would be filing a report with Centurylink.

    Which I tried to do. Unfortunately there is no local phone # to file a complaint, so I filed one with their corporate customer service and I guarantee it never made it back to Centurylink Seattle.

    Haven’t had time to pursue it further, but I will.

    I have also told my kids that from now on, if they accidentally open the door to a solicitor who doesn’t accept “No, we’re not interested.” on the first reply, to shut the door immediately with no further conversation and lock it.

    • Beth November 27, 2016 (2:42 pm)

      Only way to get their attention is to Shane them on Facebook. Eventually someone from their office will contact you. I’ve done; if you’re consistent, non-emotional and strong…they will connect.

  • Driver November 27, 2016 (3:24 pm)

    I meant not opening the door for solicitors in general (should solve the problem). Clink appears to be a different animal. 

    Good tip Beth.

  • ACG November 27, 2016 (4:09 pm)

    Same thing happened to us, after dark the other night. Completely ignored our “no soliciting” sign. So completely aggravating. 

  • Chuck November 27, 2016 (4:53 pm)

    I’ve got a funny one for you. A few weeks ago, my buddy texted asking if I was free for dinner as he was in the area. I wasn’t, and regretfully declined. Seconds later my door rang, so I assumed my bud had been texting from my walkway and showed up anyway. Mostly laughing, I went to the door loudly stating, “You dumb*ss” as I opened the door. 

    Yup, a Century Link salesperson. I’d obviously put him off his game, as he left quickly after I’d apologized for my blunder. I was only a little sorry for my unintended rudeness.

    Also, it’s always worked for me to be as quick and direct as possible. “No thanks, I don’t do the door to door thing. Goodnight.” Door shut.

  • anonyme November 27, 2016 (5:04 pm)

    I keep a pitchfork and horned hat ready for chasing away Jehovah’s Witnesses.

    • GoGo November 28, 2016 (6:35 am)

      Love this idea, anonyme!  Will have to use it.

    • RayWest November 29, 2016 (4:32 am)

      I used to get the regular Jehovah Witness door soliciting. After they showed up at my house at about 9:30 a.m. on a Saturday, I finally asked that they not come to my house again. They were very kind and said they’d make a note to skip my house in the future. I’ve never had them call again, so I was very grateful for that. I doubt C-Link would be so respectful. Most times I peek out the window when I hear knocking and don’t answer if it looks like solicitor. I always keep my screen door locked, and have the “No Solicitation” sign. I had someone try to open my screen door once as he was talking to me. He claimed to be from some youth charity, but was carrying a bunch of “Learning Annex” catalogs that have nothing to do with a charity. I slammed the door shut.  Now I don’t trust any of them.

  • ConcernedinWS November 27, 2016 (6:54 pm)

    On Saturday in Seaview, about 5pm a woman rang our doorbell.  She gave me her first name and showed me a laminated sheet that looked home-printed and bore the name of an organization I never heard of.  I told her we don’t accept solicitation and asked her to leave.  She said, “I’m not soliciting.” I asked, “Are you asking me to buy something or donate money, because that is soliciting.  And we don’t accept it at our door.” She said, “Maybe, but this is more about me achieving my personal goals than about what I’m asking you for.” I said, “No, you are soliciting.  We don’t want to do that.  Goodbye.” As I shut the door, she said “I don’t send nobody anything but good intentions, so I forgive you.”  Seriously??! I asked her to leave my home repeatedly.  I finally closed the door because she wouldn’t.  

  • CenturyStink November 28, 2016 (9:24 am)

    As I was walking with my daughter back from the park, I saw 3 guys ahead, and their body language seemed so predatory towards a home they were circling, that we crossed the street to avoid them. As I got closer, I could see they were the CL solicitors that had been hanging around our street, hassling the neighbors for the last couple of hours. I don’t know where they get these guys, but they have some bad, aggressive energy..

  • Cool Breeze November 28, 2016 (9:28 am)

    When two women from CenturyLink showed up at our door this past spring, I too opened the door expecting a friend.  When I politely pointed out our “No Soliciting” sign, one of the woman replied, “Yes, but it doesn’t say ‘No CenturyLink.'”  She was aggressive and argumentative and I ended up shutting the door in her face.  My daughter amended the “No Soliciting” sign shortly thereafter with her own additional sign stating “No CenturyLink.”

  • Chris W November 28, 2016 (9:37 am)

    I called them “a plague of locusts”.

    They didn’t think it was funny.

  • anonyme November 28, 2016 (10:39 am)

    Has anyone ever called police when solicitors violated a “No solicitation” sign?  I know it’s a misdemeanor, but guessing it’s just one of many laws not enforced in Seattle.  Maybe whip out a cell phone and record the entire convo, following them back out and getting a shot of the sign in place….?   Make sure you tell them that they have been formally warned not to trespass.  

  • Meyer November 28, 2016 (12:12 pm)

    Funny I too had insistent Centurylink employees come to my door after dark on the Friday after Thanksgiving last year. They gave off a very weird vibe and it took a few tries for them to finally get that we weren’t interested in their services.

  • Thatsucks November 28, 2016 (1:05 pm)

    We know that thieves case homes by knocking to check for occupants- then give a false reason (door to door sales, looking for lost pet, etc) for calling. Is it possible some of these “Centurylink” solicitors are in fact prowlers? It would be an easy, quick cover- with so many about. Even if they do actually sell Centurylink as contracted salespeople (which means they could be contracted from a cluster of day workers hovering about a Home Depot parking lot), that would not preclude them from casing your home.  They seem so desperate and brazen, I would not think the opportunity would be lost on them…

  • annoyed November 28, 2016 (4:25 pm)

    Just had the similar experience with people saying they were third party contractors working for CenturyLink.  When the first thing I said was “I’m not interested” it was as though they didn’t even hear me and went into their sales pitch.  I took pictures and video of the interaction – did not have licenses on them (they said it’s “back at the office”), knew I was a customer of CenturyLink though and menacingly listed off my name and personal info provided to them by CenturyLink.  I called up CenturyLink to complain and the guy sounded very uninterested and said they’re third party contractors and there’s nothing they can do about their interactions.  When I told him I had video and pictures and the solicitors did not have licenses with them as required by law, the CenturyLink rep literally laughed and hung up on me.  So frustrating that my only options are CenturyLink and Comcast for reliable internet here in West Seattle.  Comcast is just as bad.  

    I’ve never had issues with the actual internet service and have a good deal on price, so I don’t particularly want to cancel, just don’t want to be harassed or have my information given to solicitors trying to sell me on additional services I’m not interested in and who won’t take no for an answer.

  • Greg November 28, 2016 (6:05 pm)

    Century Link is the reason we even put up a “No Solicitors” sign and they have ignored it three times.  The last clowns claimed it doesn’t apply to them since they’re a utility. :\  Since the middle of summer, they have been to the house seven different times.

    We’re half-tempted to post this notice just past the “No Solicitors” sign:

  • paul November 29, 2016 (11:23 am)

    I just took to opening the door while proudly open carrying my .45 on my right hip.  They get the point faster that way.

  • Salal November 30, 2016 (1:08 pm)

     Who is training these guys?  Must be promising these two guys big bucks I bet.  Thanks century link. I know I will never give you my money now!

  • SeattleGrrl November 30, 2016 (6:02 pm)

    At 5:10PM on Nov. 30, someone knocked loudly on our apartment door repeatedly, and kept ringing the doorbell. We have had issues with aggressive solicitors lately, and so we did not want to answer the door. Finally, we did just to stop the ringing and knocking. Looking through the peephole, we saw a dark-skinned female, approx. early to mid-20s.

    I asked what she wanted through the door. She started some pitch about raising money selling magazines. I politely pointed out that there are no soliciting signs on both approaches into the pathway where our apartment doors are. She immediately launched into a profanity filled tirade calling me various unsavory names and using the F word repeatedly saying she didn’t care what kind of signs there were and she would do whatever the “F” she wanted. She then went right on to the next door and started pounding on it and ringing the bell. 
    When they didn’t answer, she cursed at their door, and then went to the third door, where our neighbor opened the door and she started on her pitch again. He told her that we’d had someone with the same schtick pounding on our doors just a few days ago, which we had (a dark-skinned man mid to late 20s?) and no, not interested thank you. I stepped outside at that point, being able to hear all this through our open window, just in case the woman got ugly, I wanted to make sure our neighbor wasn’t by himself. When she saw me, she started cursing at me again loudly. My neighbor shut his door, and I very politely told her once again that there was no soliciting on the property, and there were signs posted very clearly on either entrance to our walkway. 
    She pushed past me, nearly knocking me into the bushes, cursing me and calling me foul names and saying ‘what, you going to call the police? they ain’t going to do nothing you go ahead’ foul name foul name F you, etc. etc. etc. I did my best to stay as polite as possible and tell her to please leave and pointed out the location of the no soliciting sign she was literally right next to. She finally started stomping toward our back parking lot, cursing and calling me terrible names, acting very threatening. 
    At which point I backed into my doorway and took several photos of her front on in case she should attack me, or if she should come back at some point and attack me or damage my property. When I got back through my door, she was still cursing in the parking lot. I waited about 10 minutes until it was quiet, and went and asked my neighbor if he knew who the woman had said she was with, and he said it was some thing about magazines and had all been weird and sketchy just like the guy not many days ago. We’ve been well aware of scams in our neighborhood of people collecting credit card information and checks for ‘magazines’ and other things for charity or for raising money for school and stuff, and then having huge charges on their cards or identity theft issues. So most folks around here are very wary of this kind of suspicious activity. 
    If this is some sort of legit fundraising effort, someone needs to figure out what it is for and contact the organizers because their people are frightening and intimidating people. If it is not, then there is some kind of scam going on here, and we’ve had two different people in just a few days come pounding and pounding and pounding on our doors trying to scam us.
    I filed a report through the Seattle Police website, but I know that mostly gets ignored. I’m afraid some poor little old lady is going to end up getting scammed, or maybe even beaten up and robbed by these people. The guy that came a few days ago was rude and aggressive, but this girl was downright scary!

  • Simon November 30, 2016 (7:37 pm)

    We have a sign hanging in plain sight next to our front door that says “No Soliciting, Please”. Still had these two guys from CenturyLink knock on our door at 7:30pm as we were sitting down to dinner. This is the 3rd time in as many months. Same guys. This time they said they thought it said “No Smoking”. I’m snapping a picture of them next time. I was too mad to think of it this time.

  • sojohnative December 1, 2016 (7:36 am)

    I’m fortunate to have a bamboo screen over the bedroom window that looks at my front porch, when anyone knocks they can’t see in but i can see  out, I immediately run to the bedroom and check who it might be.If it is a salesman or solicitor with their gear I just  don’t answer, if it is someone without some identifying gear or objects , I say as loudly as I can “how can I help you” through the wall which is about 2ft away they state their business and I say I’m not interested, it seems to help not making eye contact and they leave .I just want them to know someone is home.

  • POC December 1, 2016 (8:22 pm)

    This is the 6th time in the past several months that Century Link has disturbed the peace at my house.  I have No Soliciting signs posted.  I have tried not answering but they just return several hours later and persist until they get a response.  They have a notepad that I assume lists which homes have not answered the door.  It is not always the same 2 people but they all have the same response to my pointing out the No Soliciting signs.  They are obviously trained in exactly what to say in response to someone pointing to the sign.  They are aggressive and intimidating.  

    Certainly someone in this city can find a way to stop this.  Could more publicity help to shame Century Link?  Could the WSB forward this story with all of the comments to one of their news affiliates?  City council?  We need to stop these people before someone actually does get so upset that a physical altercation results.

    • WSB December 1, 2016 (8:46 pm)

      POC … WSB is a news organization. We don’t have “affiliates.” We do have 100,000+ regular readers, including people in government (and competing news organizations that often graze us for story ideas). But that’s no substitute for taking complaints directly to where they should be taken – CenturyLink itself, for example. If you think solicitors are violating rules, particularly for a city-franchised service like this, one place to start could be:

  • Lafayette Mom December 2, 2016 (6:43 pm)

    There’s a guy on Belvidere right now selling magazines.  Very personable until we said no thank you and then he turned into a MAJOR  turkey in front our our kids.   We usually don’t answer the door in the evenings, but our eight year old ran to it before we could stop him.  BOLO…..

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