Be alert to door-to-door sales

By Diane Walker - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – A warning tonight from 12 on Your Side about people coming to your door with what sounds like a great deal. Odds are you'll regret doing business with them.

There are good reasons to check out the contractor, before you write the check. Not only do you protect yourself, but, you increase your chances of getting your money back, should something go wrong.

"They went all the way up to the gate," said Jessie Beverly.

Jessie Beverley walked the driveway showing all the gravel she got from a contractor she can't find.

"They did a nice job but, I don't want him to come out in the neighborhood anymore," she said.

She was summoned by a knock on the door, and believed she was getting an improved driveway for only a few hundred dollars. The contractor also presented the job as time sensitive and Jessie was compelled to act now.

"He said 'I did a driveway up the street and I got left over gravel.' He said 'Can you use it?' I said 'Yes,'" Jessie explained.

She didn't ask, and the door-to-door solicitor didn't tell what her total cost would be. He gave her a verbal quote on a unit price.

"He said a dollar a foot, a yard, I don't know which," she said.

  • Always get it in writing.
  • Get a written contract.
  • Don't sign it until you understand every detail.
  • Pay 10 percent down, or one thousand dollars, whichever is less.
  • Never pay in cash.
  • Withhold the final payment, until you're satisfied with the work.

The stranger who sold her gravel drove away with a rather large check.

"He said it was '$3,800 but I'll give you a senior discount.' I said, 'What? I don't have that kind of money,'" Jessie said. "I must have went into shock; I think I must have to write that check."

A hard lesson but, Jessie is aware of all of her mistakes.

"I'm 80 but still my mind works," she said. "I should have known better. I'm more alert than that."

We contacted the state board of contractors, but there just isn't enough information and, while Jessie isn't happy with the price, the contractor did deliver a service. Meantime, Jessie says never again will she do business with anyone selling left over materials door-to-door.

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