Is the salesperson at your door properly licensed? Know your rights under the federal “Cooling Off” rule and the Virginia Home Solicitation Sales Act. These laws apply to virtually all purchases made in your home or at any location that is not the seller's permanent place of business.
Peddlers and Solicitors
- Soliciting is the sale of goods or services door-to-door or from a temporary stand and is regulated by Fairfax County Code. Fairfax County requires peddlers and solicitors be licensed before they solicit door to door. They may solicit only between 9 a.m. and 8 p.m., and may not solicit at a residence which posts a "No Peddlers or Solicitors" sign.
- A peddler or solicitor must show the license upon request and must leave the premises immediately if asked to leave. Often solicitors will show customers an ID badge or some other document, claiming that they are licensed by Fairfax County when they are not.
- When a solicitor knocks.
- Ask for his or her license.
- If they do not have a valid license, ask them to leave.
- Close and lock your door.
- Immediately call Fairfax County Police (non-emergency) at 703-691-2131 to report the violation.
- Solicitors offer a wide variety of goods and services for sale. Solicitors may be selling goods or services such as magazine subscriptions, tree work, firewood, driveway sealing, coupon books, or meat; or "setting appointments" for high-speed internet/cable service, home improvements, or home security alarms. No matter what good or service they are offering, the solicitor is required to have a license.
- Peddler and Solicitor Licenses are issued by the Regulation and Licensing Branch of the Department of Cable and Consumer Services, 12000 Government Center Parkway, Suite 127, Fairfax, Virginia 22035.
- The Fairfax County Solicitor's License is a laminated card that displays the solicitor's photograph, name, and personal information on the front side. The back side of the license displays the solicitor's business information and thumbprints. It is valid for one year from date of issue.
A Buyer’s Right to Cancel
- Virginia law gives consumers the right to cancel a home solicitation contract for $25 or more at any time prior to midnight of the third business day after the date of the transaction.
- Consumers have up to 30 days to cancel if the seller has misrepresented the nature or purpose of transaction.
- A waiver or modification of a buyer's right to cancel is void and of no effect. In the event a buyer grants such a waiver or modification, the buyer's right to cancel begins on the first business day after he learns that the waiver or modification is void and of no effect.
- Cancellation occurs when the buyer gives written notice of cancellation to the seller.
- After cancellation, the consumer must make available to the seller any goods delivered by the seller, and in as good condition as when received. If a seller fails to recover the goods within 20 days after cancellation or revocation, then the goods become the property of the buyer, with no obligation to pay for them.
- The Virginia Home Solicitation Sales Act does not apply to sales resulting from prior negotiations between the parties, or in some cases when the buyer has asked the seller to provide goods or services without delay because of an emergency.
The Seller’s Obligations
- The seller must tell you about your cancellation rights at the time of sale.
- The seller must provide you with a copy of your receipt (for cash sales) or contract (for credit sales). The receipt or contract must be in the same language used in the sales presentation. The receipt or contract should be dated, show the name and address of the seller, and explain your right to cancel.
- Virginia law requires that the Buyer’s Right to Cancel must appear as a conspicuous caption on the front side of the receipt or contract, or immediately above the buyer’s signature, in bold face type with a minimum size of 10 points.
- Under federal law, the seller must give you two copies of a cancellation form: one to keep and one to send.
- After you cancel within permitted time-frames, the seller has 10 days to:
- Refund your money.
- Cancel and return any promissory note or other negotiable instrument you signed.
- Return any trade-in you gave, and return it in as good condition as when received by the seller.
- If the seller fails to return the trade-in, you may recover its equivalent monetary value as stated in the agreement.
- After cancellation, a seller who provided goods has 10 days to inform the buyer whether the goods will be picked up.
- A seller who does not recover the goods within 20 days of cancellation forfeits ownership of them.
- The seller is not entitled to compensation for services performed prior to the end of the cancellation period.
- A violation of any provision of the Virginia Home Solicitation Sales Act is subject to any and all of the enforcement provisions under the Virginia Consumer Protection Act.