Door-to-Door Solicitation Podcast Transcript


Welcome to the Informed Consumer-the latest tips and tools about consumer issues to assist consumers in making informed decisions from the Fairfax County Consumer Affairs Branch.

Today’s topic is: Door-to-Door Solicitation.

Fairfax County requires that Peddlers and Solicitors be licensed before they solicit door to door.  Solicitors are required to show you their license and may not solicit at a residence which posts a “No Peddlers or Solicitors” sign.  The hours that solicitors may knock on your door are between 9 a.m. and 8 p.m.

In addition, they must leave the premises immediately if you ask them to leave.

Solicitors offer a wide variety of goods and services for sale. Solicitors may be selling or “setting appointments” for high speed Internet, cable services, home improvements, home security alarms, magazine subscriptions, or lawn or tree services.  No matter what goods or services are being offered, the solicitor is required to have a license. Legitimately licensed solicitors should always show their Fairfax County issued license when a prospective customer asks to see it.

The Solicitor’s License is an individual license, not a business license. If a solicitor tells you that their business has a license, the solicitor may not be properly licensed in Fairfax County.  If the solicitor does not have a license, call Fairfax County Police immediately to report the violation at 703-691-2131.

The Virginia Home Solicitation Sales act applies if you are solicited to purchase goods or services at your residence.  As a consumer in Virginia, you have the right to cancel a home solicitation contract until the third business day after the purchase. 

The seller must provide you with a fully completed receipt if the sale is by cash or credit card and a copy of the contract minus any blank spaces. The receipt or contract must inform you of your right to cancel.  However, sales of less than $25 or resulting from prior negotiations between the parties are exempt from this law. 

The Buyer’s Right to Cancelshould 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. The cancellation notice should be clearly stated in writing.

The following are reasons why the contract may notbe canceled:

  1. the buyer requests the seller to provide goods or services without delay because of an emergency;
  2. the buyer’s emergency request clearly states in writing that the buyer understands that he is waiving his right to cancel the sale;
  3. a substantial beginning of the performance of the contract is made by the seller before the buyer gives notice of cancellation;
  4. the goods are not in as good a condition as when they were received by the buyer.

A consumer should expect a refund within 10 days after a home solicitation sale has been canceled or voided, and the seller must refund any payments made by the buyer.  Any goods traded in, must be returned in substantially as good a condition as when received by the seller. If the seller fails to return the goods traded by the buyer, the buyer may recover its equivalent monetary value as stated in the agreement.

The following steps should occur when returning the items to the seller.

  1. The buyer is not obligated to return the goods to the seller at any place other than his residence;
  2. If the seller does not demand possession of goods within 20 days after cancellation or revocation, the goods become the property of the buyer without obligation to pay for them
  3. The buyer has the duty to take reasonable care of the goods before cancellation or revocation, and for the reasonable time during which the goods are at the seller’s risk.
  4. The seller is not entitled to compensation for services performed prior to the end of the cancellation period.

If the purchase was made from a seller or his agent who failed to immediately identify himself as a seller or misrepresents the nature of the solicitation, the buyer has 30 days to cancel the home solicitation sales contract.

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

Thanks for listening to the Informed Consumer. For more information on this topic or if you feel that you’ve been a victim of a scam, please contact the Consumer Affairs Branch at 703-222-8435 or visit our web site at Informed Consumer is produced by the Fairfax County, Virginia, government.

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