Rethinking door-to-door sales

In an age where the avenues available for companies to reach consumers are virtually limitless, some businesses still feel the need to market their products and services door-to-door. There was a time, of course, when the practice was fruitful for both consumers and businesses and many salesmen built relationships with customers that would continue for years to come.

Nowadays, most people place door-to-door salesman in the same category as the telemarketer, viewing them more as an occasional irritant than someone with a quality product to sell. I didn’t think door-to-door sales were even that prominent anymore. Usually, when there is a knock on my door (when my dog doesn’t scare them off), it’s someone that wants to give me the latest copy of the Watchtower or a stack of phonebooks (another antiquated sales practice).

What got me on my soapbox today was a story out of Florida about a door-to-door alarm salesman who had a BB gun put to his head.

According to a story published by the St. Petersburg Times, an alarm salesman got more than he bargained for when he approached one home in Spring Hill. The salesman was greeted by a man who allegedly placed a BB gun that resembled a real one to his head and then uttered a threatening statement.

The 50-year-old suspect reportedly told sheriff’s deputies that he didn’t like solicitors and that he had four or five beers prior to the incident.

I think for the good of the industry that it’s time to put this sales practice out to pasture. Not only does it open dealers up to different liability issues, but it also can create other headaches.

There have been reports over the years that door-to-door salesmen for some dealers have engaged in deceptive sales practices. The Wall Street Journal reported on Friday that Utah-based Pinnacle Security, known for its use of door-to-door salesmen, has agreed to pay a civil penalty in New York to the tune of $150,000, as well as full restitution to customers who have signed contracts with the company since January 2008. Pinnacle Security, which has been given an "F" rating by the Better Business Bureau, has also come under fire in other states for its business practices.

If these stories are any indication, door-to-door sales have become more of burden to the security industry than they are worth.