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Attorney General Janet T. Mills warns homeowners to be wary when dealing with door-to-door sellers
July 22, 2013
Augusta, Maine) Attorney General Janet T. Mills reminds Maine homeowners to be wary of door-to-door sellers using high pressure tactics to sell home repair services, paving jobs and other goods. Maine has three statutes specifically intended to regulate door-to-door sales and to protect consumers from high pressure tactics. In many cases, door-to-sales require a state license and a three day waiting period.
“An educated consumer is a protected consumer,” said Attorney General Mills. “At the very least, a consumer should know that door-to-door sellers are required to have a permanent address or to be licensed with the state. If you do agree to do business with this person, they must give you a detailed contract and they cannot commence work for three days, during which the consumer may cancel. Demand for payment up front should be a red flag that something is not right.”
I. The Consumer Solicitation Sales Act requires that a door-to-door seller of merchandise, including home repair services, paving or installing burglar alarms, must use a specific written contract and must wait three days before beginning the job. A homeowner has this period of time to review the contract and to cancel it in writing if they change their mind for any reason. If a deposit was provided, the seller has to return it within 15 days.
II. The Transient Sales Act applies to those sellers who travel into and throughout the State selling such services and goods such as driveway paving or magazine subscriptions and who then seem to “disappear” by the time problems develop. This Act requires transient sellers of merchandise or services to be licensed by the State if they do not have a permanent place of business in Maine (either a 12-month lease or ownership of the business building). A consumer should ask for the address of the seller’s Maine “permanent place of business.”
III. The Door-To-Door Seller of Home Repair Services Act requires a door-to-door seller of home repair services to be licensed by the State and to carry a State issued license when soliciting in a municipality in which the seller does not have a permanent place of business (a 12-month lease or ownership). For example, if you find a driveway paver who is going door-to-door, ask them: (a) Do you have a permanent place of business in this municipality; (b) if not, show me your State license.
To find out if a seller is licensed under the Transient Sales Act or the Door-to-Door Seller of Home Repair Services Act, call the Licensing Division at the Maine Department of Professional and Financial Regulation (624-8603) to confirm that the seller is registered. Or search Maine’s online list of licensees at: www.maine.gov/pfr/professionallicensing/license_search.htm.
Any complaints regarding door-to-door sales should first be reported to your local police department. Make sure to obtain the seller’s name and address and the identification of employees and vehicles. Also, photos of the individuals are helpful, in case the sellers are using different names. If you have questions about these or other consumer matters, please contact the Consumer Protection Division of the Attorney General’s Office at 1(800) 436-2131 or firstname.lastname@example.org.