This is the message given to most people who approach my front door. There are many others as well that have such a warning posted. Does it help? Not really. It is largely ignored by most people who come through my neighborhood. Of course, mine is not an isolated incident as I hear reports from many people that solicitors just pretend they did not see it or that they just flat out ignore the message. There is a reason too that this message is about as pointless as posting a sign on your door that says, “Zombie Apocalypse Approaching!”. That reason.. money!
About 15 years ago I had a sales job that among other tactics, required a bit of door to doors sales of small businesses. When one gentleman in my group inquired about the “No Soliciting” signs and stickers, we were told to just ignore them. The instructor told us that most people put those up forget about them or they were there when they took ownership and they just did not remove them.
“If someone points the message out to you, just apologize and move on, but there is no reason to ignore a possible sale because of a sticker”.
While this made sense to me at the time, now that I am seemingly plagued by these door to door salespeople at my home it is more than a bit annoying. So what can we do to fix the situation? Is there anything we can do, or do we have to take this to City Hall or some other code enforcement entity? Sometimes, if the mood presents itself, I will have a bit of fun with them. Much like the occasional telemarketer. Problem is however, these people are coming to my home. Knocking on my door. Wanting to sit there and talk with me while just 5 minutes ago I finished dinner and was just about to relax for a minute before the kids decide Dad has sat down long enough.
Recently the biggest offenders in my part of town have been Comcast. I have a personal issue with Comcast, but I think I will save that for another day because in the end, don’t we all?Â I will make one complaint here about their outside salespeople however, since I have the floor. You would think that they would send them out with some sort of information about the people they are trying to sell to. Maybe a list of current subscribers, or what services people have so they could try and sell add-ons. Instead, they came to my door as if I have never been a customer and knew nothing about the services they offered. Not only did that make me a bit upset, but I was offended that they apparently do not care enough about me as a customer to try and make my service better.Â
Why do we have so many solicitors? Well, because we have a friendly and rich city. It is no big secret that people in St. Charles and Geneva are for the most part, well off. Or at least most are above the national average for household income. I am on the other side of that line however so I don’t know why they bother me.. oh yea.. because I live here.
What about our local laws and ordinances, are they “solicitor friendly”? Actually, our local laws regarding this are pretty standard. The ordinance states that it is up to the residents to determine if a solicitor or peddler shall be invited or not. This means, and it is backed up by the context of the law, that if we say “No Soliciting” or “No Peddling”, they have to obey.
The Geneva Municipal Code, Title 4-Chapter 8-Section 5 deals with the “Uninvited Solicitor” and the penalties involved. Keep in mind that the “Uninvited Solicitor” is one that ignores a posted sign or tries to otherwise gain the attention of the resident with the intention of selling something to them. This appears to me to be about 95% of the people I have encountered in my time living in Geneva. What about you?
So what are the penalties for such a nuisance (as they are referred to)? The first offense is a $50 fine, the second (within a 72 hour period) is $100. The fine doubles every 72 hours from there. Without such a penalty there is nothing stopping these people from engaging in this practice. I fear that most residents of Geneva are not aware that it is illegal to solicit door to door if you have previously made it clear that you do not wish to be bothered in this manner. Unfortunately none of this will stop unless people start acting on the law and force some of these companies to pay the fines. The penalties levied against such perpetrators is one that will hit them right where it hurts, their wallet. I would not think that a solicitor would continue to bug a homeowner after the first fine however. If they did, the second would surely stop them.
Now we ask ourselves, “is it really necessary to call the police or otherwise cause financial penalty to be sought”? That depends on how you feel about what is happening and whether or not you are bothered by it. Consider why we have so many in our neighborhoods for a minute. Then you can decide if it is better to just shoo them away or try and put an end to it for good.
So what or who we are dealing with. There is big push to help grow local small businesses and I have no qualms with that, in fact I support it. Last year I was solicited twice at my home from a local financial firm asking if they could help me with my retirement. Needless to say, I am not about to discuss my finances with someone who comes to my front door, but I am not about to call the police on someone who is polite, does not push for a sale when I say no, and does not come back over and over again. Ok, this is one type of solicitor that I have seen lately, what about the other?
You should have seen them at some point over the last couple of years, mostly during the summer months of course. They are dropped off on your block by someone in a van or a car, 4-5 deep. They spread out and attack a 2 mile radius before anyone knows what hit them. They sell anything from magazines and newspapers to cooking supplies and cheaper natural gas.This is a coordinated effort and one that is used because not only does it allow them to cover more area in the least amount of time. But because they want to be in and out quick. They know that they are normally not welcome and they have dealt with local police before. Last year I had a discussion with one of our fine Geneva Police Officers and they were all too aware of the “out of town peddlers”.
The issue that I have with these people is not necessarily their warez, but rather where the money goes and how they go about getting the sales. Most of them are inner city kids or young adults. They sell magazines and newspapers with the guise that it is going to help them get to college or some other academic program that costs too much money for them to attend. They hit you with the oldest sales strategy in the book – guilt and sympathy. If you feel sorry enough for their plight you just might buy something. Have you ever taken the time to really examine their product catalogs? They look like they are on their last legs and have been used by what could be hundreds of previous salespeople.
They often hit you with, “your neighbor just signed up for 3 issues” or “I am only a couple more sales away from hitting my goal”. The best part about some of these people is their use of the English language. I probably shouldn’t get a chuckle out of it but I do. I cannot help myself because they are trying so hard to sound professional, but they struggle putting together a simple sentence. Especially when what they are telling you is a flat out lie. Furthermore, you can usually tell that they have been coached by people who are experienced salespeople because they will not take the first “no” for an answer and usually have a quick rebuttal for your first rejection.
One of the biggest problems with the whole scenario is that in most cases, you stand a good chance of not getting what you ordered in the first place. I have looked at a couple of the sheets when they claimed that “my neighbors” signed up or bought something. I did not recognize any of the names on the sheet. Of course I don’t know everyone, but you would think that if the address matched someone I knew, that I would at least see the name of a friend. Instead it was obvious that the name on the order form did not match that of the person who lived at the “claimed” address. You have to be leery of these so-called salesmen, in most cases this is a scam.
The best thing that you can do to protect yourself is to first get a No Soliciting sticker or card. A simple 3″ x 4″ card that indicates your determination to not be bothered. Place it near the front entrance of your residence, and you will be protected by law. Should you be bothered because someone has ignored your message you then have every right to call the police. However this is entirely your choice. I only suggest that you exercise a little bit of common sense in this type of situation. In some cases you will be targeted a couple of times in a 3 day period because they are canvasing your area in the hopes to make as many sales as possible. If this happens you might want to call the police because they are probably claiming to be working for a charity and none of it is true.
Use your best judgement. Talk to your neighbors. Do not let yourself fall victim to any type of scam or theft. It is a bit more common than you might think. Remember, you are protected by the law in this case and if you need to utilize it then do so. You have every right to enjoy the privacy of your own home.