Debunking Facebook post to uncover truth; 5 tips on door-to-door salesBy Robb Hicken/ BBB’s chief storyteller
“Oh my gosh, I just read on Facebook about those Russian women who are going through neighborhoods stealing kids and forcing them into the sex trades,” the woman from next door blared out. “You don’t think that was the same people who stopped by last week do you?”
Sam’s heart dropped. A van had stopped on her street and put two women out. “This is EXACTLY what happened in my neighborhood,” she thought to herself.
When they knocked on the door and introduced themselves their accents were very clear – Russian or Slavic in nature, she thought recalling the incident. The one woman was a bit aggressive and she showed a list of extremely personal information about my neighbors. The younger woman had tried to force her way into the house for about 15 minutes, Sam remembered. At one point, she had threaten to call the Idaho Falls Police Department, but didn’t. It was so intense at the time, but now, not so much, she recalled.
“Oh, calm down,” she said to her neighbor. “It’s probably nothing.”
After her neighbor went home, Sam spent the next three hours on the Internet reading reports, stories and news about the nefarious door-to-door sales crews Facebook post.
Postings like this may have some truths, but law enforcement has little proof the booksellers kidnap United States children.
BBB research shows the young men and women work for Southwestern Advantage, a book publisher as part of a summer sales program for college students. A Southwestern Advantage official Trey Campbell said the tactics used to find children, their habits and interests are all part of good selling.
“They try to save time and skip over people who don’t have children and won’t be prospects for the product,” the official said.
He said this rumor began on Facebook, posted by someone in Tulsa, Okla., and it has been re-posted in other states on other walls. Debunking the rumor – especially the kidnapping – is never-ending process.
The myth is only perpetuated when door-to-door sales crews disrespect local ordinances or break the law.
BBB reminds everyone – whether dealing with educational books and materials, cleaning supplies, home alarm systems and even frozen meat and poultry – to be cautious of a door to door salesperson or itinerant worker if they:
Use high pressure sales tactics. A reputable seller will give you time to think through the deal and make an appointment to return at a later date. A dishonest seller will try to get you to sign up immediately and perhaps intimidate you into opening your wallet before you can do your research. Do not give in to high-pressure sales tactics—even if the deal supposedly won’t last long or the salesperson is aggressive—it’s worth it to stop and think it over first.
Offer a deal that sounds too good to be true. Some sellers might offer an extremely good price for their products or services. The adage holds true that you get what you pay for and many people have been quickly disappointed when the products didn’t live up to the hype or the company did a shoddy job.
Can’t or won’t provide you with personal identification. Any legitimate salesperson will be able to give you positive identification for both themselves and their company. Also beware of sellers who don’t appear to have any ties to the community. Itinerant workers often enter and exit an area quickly, usually with the money of the people they have scammed.
Represent a company with a poor rating from your BBB. Before you break out your checkbook, always check the company out with your BBB first to see how many complaints they’ve received and how they’ve handled them in addition to BBB’s overall rating.
Fail to follow federal law. Federal law requires that if you buy more than $25 in goods, the salesperson must tell you of your rights to cancel within three business days. Called the “cooling off” rule, these rights are typically included with the company’s contact information on the receipt or contract.