RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Does your elderly family member know what to do when a salesman or contractor knocks on the door? Many don't, and sometimes they find themselves locked in a contract they can't afford.
It almost happened to one Richmond couple.
It's obvious they need a roof. Anyone walking the street can see that, and that's where door-to-door solicitors come in. The couple says they're constantly being approached, and this last time they say they invited a salesman in their home, they signed something they now regret.
The roof is the home's original. It was on the house when the Rogers bought it 18 years ago. It looks bad, but they say it doesn't leak. Claire Rogers called 12 for help and says, "Shingles missing and coming down. When the wind blows, it really knocks them out."
Claire says the shape of their roof and their age and poor health make them targets for solicitors, who she says work the neighborhood constantly. She adds, "They see that we are old. My husband can't get around that well."
She says one door-to-door salesman wanted them to pay an outrageous price for a new roof.
"It was $47,000 to put a roof on this house."
For what seniors should know, we went to the Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation.
Director of Communications, State Board of Contractor, Mary Broz-Vaughan says, "The busiest and best contractors don't have time to go door-to-door to solicit business."
If you do invite someone in and sign documents, buyers have a three-day right to cancel. Licensed contractors are required to include a statement of consumer protections in the written contract.
"You can respond in writing and cancel the sale," said Broz-Vaughan. "You don't need to have a particular reason."
The cancellation rule applies to most contracts negotiated in your home, even if you called the company. Which is what the Rogers did - they agreed to finance a nearly $13,000 roof. Papers show payments at $162 a month for 10 years.
Fortunately for them, they were not approved for financing, so their $500 deposit is being returned.
"Follow your gut instinct. Limit your down payment. Don't feel pressured into signing anything right then," said Broz-Vaughan.
No more contract worries, but still they don't have the funds to pay for a roof on their own.
Claire is pleading for help and says, "We need the roof. I'm embarrassed by it. We need some help and any bit of help that we can get would really be appreciated."
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