As the weather gets warmer, city officials and police are giving residents a heads-up as peddlers and solicitors start going door-to-door.
“This is when we start seeing more peddler and solicitor applications as the weather turns nice,” said Deputy City Manager Mike Schrage. “Peddling is seasonal, and we start getting more applications this time of the year.”
While the majority of the peddlers and solicitors are selling products legitimately, the police department in a news release is urging residents to be suspicious of all door-to-door sellers.
According to city code, peddlers and solicitors are uninvited sellers of products or services. The difference between the two terms is that a peddler has actual goods to sell and a solicitor takes orders for items or services.
Deputy City Clerk Shandi Wicks said peddlers and solicitors come to town selling magazines, books, vacuum cleaners and more.
Wicks said about 50 peddlers and solicitors visit Salina to sell their wares each year.
Must have a badge
When peddlers and solicitors come to town, they must apply for a city permit and pay $35 for a background check.
“Our process is to license them if they meet the minimum standards of a background check,” Schrage said. “If they have a license from us, they are legal to sell in the city.”
Wicks said the city has denied licenses before for people who have committed crimes, but the majority of applicants pass the background check.
Peddlers and solicitors are then issued a permit with their name, company name, photo, badge number, signature, city logo and the city clerk’s signature. They are required to wear the badge at all times.
Wicks said organizations using children, such as the Girl Scouts, can file for a juvenile permit to allow all members of the organization to sell without a permit.
They don’t work for us
While the city is required to put its logo on the permit, Wicks said people have become confused about the salesmen.
“We have had in the past a lot of peddlers who misrepresent themselves as city employees,” Wicks said “The logo just says that we have given them a license to go door-to-door. The city logo does not mean they work for us.”
Wicks said it is illegal to claim an affiliation with the city, aside from being licensed.
If a peddler does not wear a badge, Wicks said, citizens should ask the person for the badge. Citizens also should notify police if that person isn’t wearing a badge.
Aside from displaying a badge, peddlers and solicitors must follow other rules set up by the city.
When ‘no’ means ‘go!’
They’re allowed to visit houses only between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m., must approach only the primary entrance to the house and may not sell from the street. The city also guards against sellers being too aggressive.
“Once you say ‘no,’ they have to leave,” Wicks said. “Some try to stand there and ask if you ‘are you sure you don’t want it’ or say that it will protect your family. It is illegal and there are consequences for people who continue to do that.”
Deputy Police Chief Carson Mansfield said police have made several arrests over the years because of aggressive soliciting and peddling without a license.
A violation of the law could mean a fine of up to $500 or face a jail sentence of up to six months.
Watch for scammers
Mansfield said residents must also watch out for scammers.
“This time of year, with home improvements going on, someone will pull up and say they are working down the street and say they have leftover product they are happy to get rid of by helping you,” Mansfield said. “They would then get you to have them do it and say they found something else or say you agreed to pay a certain amount for improvements and it may be 10 times higher than they told you.”
Mansfield said people have three days, by law, to cancel a door-to-door sale.
Prevention and protection
While peddlers and solicitors are allowed in the city, Wicks said, if you post a “No Soliciting” sign, it’s illegal for them to approach your house.
Wicks said if you’re being bothered, get the name or badge number of the solicitor, not a physical description.
“We get a lot of calls from people saying a guy with brown hair and a blue shirt was at my door,” Wicks said. “When you have 50 peddlers in a year, it is hard to tell who the person is with the brown hair and blue shirt.”
Mansfield said police can usually track down offenders if people call in.
Wicks said if people have questions they can call the police department or the city.
nReporter Chris Hunter can be reached at 822-1422 or by e-mail at [email protected]