Door-to-door solicitors: An encounter tonight, and what you need to know

After a few questions about door-to-door solicitors in recent weeks, and a report tonight, it’s time for a refresher course on the rules. First, the report sent by Nicholas:

Just wanted to give our neighbors a heads up that at about 6:00 pm tonight we had door to door solicitor come to our house on Alki and claim to be selling magazine subscriptions with an emphasis on making a commission if you buy multiple years’ worth of the product. He was a mid forties black man with glasses, button down dress shirt, slacks and white sneakers- his dress looked like he stepped out of the mid-nineties. He claimed to be part of an organization called Young Connections That Work and when we looked that up online while he was at the door the website came back with an Error 404 message. He said he was up from Tennessee and that he has been doing the magazine sales for about 3 months. He was carrying a binder with magazine offerings and prices as well as “receipt” booklets. He was pleasant and not aggressive, though he repeated himself often and deflected our questions about the organization. He also smelled of alcohol. When we finally told him we weren’t interested and didn’t feel comfortable with the level of information he had, he told us he would be back again soon.

After he left we did some more digging and found multiple businesses listed as operating out of the same address connected to Young Connections That Work – none of which seem legit. We’d caution anybody who is approached by this individual or anyone else with a similar story.

Nicholas says the solicitor did not display a license. While that’s not required for charity-donation soliciting, it is required for sales. from the Seattle Municipal Code:

*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.”

The full set of rules is here. Also, the Better Business Bureau‘s advice is here.

11 Replies to "Door-to-door solicitors: An encounter tonight, and what you need to know"

  • Rumbles September 14, 2019 (7:00 am)

    How about phasing our the whole door to door thing!?  Change it from a “walk up to everyone’s house” to an “Opt-in” model. If you don’t have a solicitation permitted sign, move on!  You aren’t going to see many people opt in to this archaic practice.  Sheesh!  Seems like the majority of this stuff is sketchy or worse.  

  • Travis September 14, 2019 (8:01 am)

    The Atlantic Monthly published an article a few years ago about young people lured and trapped into selling magazines door-to-door and scamming customers. The description Nicholas provides sounds similar. Here’s the AM link:

    • Tim September 14, 2019 (7:17 pm)

      Travis, thank you for the article. I’ve always suspected all of this.  I’ve had many discussions with these kids and I’ve gleaned the same situation from them.  I’ve seen the same young man three years in row years ago and can tell he remembered me. I was stiffed by one before and lost my appetite for them and their stories.

  • Julie September 14, 2019 (8:07 am)

    The magazine guy is part of a scam. Bought it a few years ago and never received any magazines. Nice salesman but no product ever arrived. Buyer beware!

  • Sillygoose September 14, 2019 (8:55 am)

    This group had been coming into west seattle for 20 years. It’s usually at risk youth from the south. I use to wonder if they were missing youth as they always seemed so desperate and fearful of their date if a subscription was sold. A white van usually drops them late after noon picks them up after dark. Really sad.

  • SMelrose September 14, 2019 (12:08 pm)

    All valid points and there are concerning elements about this “program” for sure. For me, I choose to “buy” the mag because I want to support the person at the door. It’s possible that I’m causing harm in other areas, but in that moment I choose to say Yes to someone who is doing a very hard job. For me it’s about the individual and supporting them. 

  • Me September 14, 2019 (12:11 pm)

    Take a picture of them if your worried.

  • Nick September 14, 2019 (12:48 pm)

    I had one of these people come to my old West Seattle apartment on Avalon years ago. No idea if it was this same company, but it was after dark and she was indeed from somewhere in the South and had a full sob story to go along with the overpriced subscriptions she was trying to sell. I ended up declining the subscription and just giving her some cash. The whole thing seems weird and sketchy, the Atlantic article on it is very good and accurate.

  • T September 14, 2019 (1:23 pm)

    The magazine sellers have had the same story since at least 1992 when I first heard it. I’m surprised they are still at it especially in the reading on line age. Plus, who likes people coming to their door trying to sell stuff? I have seen shows which allege physical abuse (cigarette burns behind the ear) and starvation for not meeting quotas (little or no money for dinner at 7-11 of all places). Also, a van accident caused by people trying to switch drivers on the highway without stopping. 

  • Mj September 14, 2019 (1:33 pm)

    I added a No Soliciting sign to my entry, it’s reduced, not eliminated, unwanted interruption.  

  • Scooter September 14, 2019 (2:44 pm)

    Two Word Solution: Video DoorbellProblem SolvedYou’re Welcome

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