San Carlos Real Estate Agent, San Carlos Realtor Door-to-Door Solicitors in San Carlos: A Mere Nuisance or a Growing Danger? | The White Oaks Blog
Living in San Carlos March 18, 2009

Door-to-Door Solicitors in San Carlos: A Mere Nuisance or a Growing Danger?

by Chuck Gillooley

You know the routine…

You’re just sitting down to dinner or a few minutes of TV when there’s a knock at the door.   There you’re met by some kid that you’ve never seen before, who claims to be your “neighbor’s son on the other block” (whom you’ve never heard of before either,) and he is selling magazines for his school to earn money for a trip to Disneyland, Europe, etc….     He might even have an official looking piece of paper that says it’s ok for him to be selling these great magazines to you.   And it’s not just magazines…it’s alarm systems, or a political cause.  Does this ring a bell?  (sorry for the bad pun…)

Pass, or Pay…

At some point in the conversation with this older-than-high-school looking kid, you’re going to have to make a decision: Buy what they’re selling, or potentially face an increasingly aggressive sales pitch.   If you decide to pass, sometimes a simple “No” does the trick —  other times the situation can get downright uncomfortable, especially if you’re someone who’s not big on confrontation.

A Nuisance, or Worse?

Most encounters with door-to-door solicitors are benign — best case, it’s just a pain in the rear having your dinner interrupted and having to listen to a sales pitch that you didn’t ask for in the first place.  But recently there has been an increase in suspicious and illegal activity by people posing as legitimate solicitors.  Just check out this recent account of an incident that just happened in White Oaks, as described by a neighbor who witnessed it:
Click here: Solicitor Alert in White Oaks

So this raises a big security concern:  Are these people truly selling things? Or, are they simply using this as an opportunity to gain information about what possessions you have in your house, who is usually in your home, and what hours you’re normally gone?  Given the state of the economy and how much people need quick cash, that’s not too far-fetched.

Time to Pull the Plug?

I know it’s not fair to lump all solicitors into this category.   The Girl Scouts of America and our local elementary schools rely heavily on going through the neighborhoods to raise funds.  Believe me, when I know it’s the time of year for Girl Scout Cookies I already have the check filled out.   But when I see the aforementioned “neighborhood kid” jump into a white panel van at the corner (with a group of other “local” kids that I’ve never seen before,)  the legitimacy of some of these operations should certainly be called into question.

Is door-to-door selling even relevant any more?   Now that everything you need to buy is on the internet, most people already know where to find what they need to buy, or what charities they’re going to give to.

So, some questions to consider:

  • Are tighter restraints needed to control soliciting?

  • Should residential soliciting be totally banned in San Carlos?

  • Or, is it not an issue to be concerned with?

I’d love to hear your opinion on this one…

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Door-to-Door Solicitors in San Carlos: A Mere Nuisance or a Growing Danger?, 4.5 out of 5 based on 1 rating
Comments 10
  • Funny you should bring this up.

    Last week in the afternoon, a guy wearing a baseball jersey came to my door & claimed that he lived up the street & that his mother was X. I did not recognize him or his alleged mother’s name.
    After trying to chat me up about baseball, he asked for $ so that his high school team could go to Hawaii. He looked too old to be a high school student, but, the again, so do some kids who play HS football.

    I declined to donate. He then asked me if a had a bottle of water. Again, I declined. The whole thing was, at the very least, odd and left me uneasy.

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    • JJ,

      You hit it right on the head — “uneasy” is a good way to describe these kinds of exchanges.

      Thanks for your comments….

      CG

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  • Yeah. Smells like scams at best and at worst, maybe scouting for some thievery.

    Since moving to white oaks six months ago, I have been sketched out by the following visits:
    – Female wanting to clean a carpet for free for a school project (evening)
    – Male wanting money for a baseball team. He was son of X down the street!? (late-morning)
    – Two separate males looking for magazine subscriptions and/or donations. Solicitor #2 was not too happy when he found out someone had been on his turf a few weeks earlier. (evening)

    I am almost looking forward to visits from religious zealots. At least I know their intentions.

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  • Hi Chuck,

    Great tips on the soliciting issue! Because I’m your neighbor and we “share” the same solicitors, I thought I would post to your blog.

    Just so everyone is aware, all soliciting in San Carlos is prohibited by our own laws, except for non-profit organizations, or for religious or political purposes. If you DO happen to open your door (I always look out the window and don’t open the door if I see the infamous clipboard), and find out that it is indeed a for-profit soliciation, ask to see their solicitation permit from the Police Department (which they won’t have). Then call 802-4277 (Non-Emergency Police Dispatch). Give the exact location and direction the person is headed. The Police will come by and cite them.

    I had an aggressive solicitor one time who actually took the mail out of my mailbox and threw it on my lawn (A federal offense). I called the Police to report it immediately.

    Keep up the great blog!

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    • Hey Neighbor!

      Thanks for writing in, and for clarifying the City’s policy on soliciting. In hindsight, I probably should have researched the policy and included it in the original article. But it’s something that every resident should know, because there seems to be a ton of illegal soliciting going on lately. And I always worry about what some screwball will do when they’re told NO and they’re not happy about it. I’d rather just not have to deal with it in the first place.

      Thanks again for writing in, and see you around the ‘hood!

      CG

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  • Here is a link which discusses soliciting in SC: http://www.cityofsancarlos.org/pd/community_education_information_outreach/door_to_door_solicitors.asp
    “Solicitors know they need to have a permit and many have already been issued citations or been arrested as cities all over the country crack down on traveling sales crews.”
    We have found that asking to see a permit and calling the police (if it seems suspicious) sends them out of the neighborhood. I would like to see solicitors banned all together. I think it is fine for girl scouts to ask neighbors they already know to buy cookies, but I would not think it safe for my children to go door to door no matter what age they are. When a solicitor comes to our door now, we do not even open it. We speak through the door, and send them on their way with a no thanks. I have heard of cases (not in San Carlos so far) where burglars gain access into the home by pushing the person out of the way and then robbing them/the house. If the economy continues to deteriorate, people will become desperate and are willing to take more risks so we must all be more careful and vigilant.

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    • SC Resident,

      Thanks for your comment. You brought up good point that I probably didn’t stress sufficiently in the post. Whenever the economy tanks, people obviously get more desperate for money whether it’s a panhandler downtown or someone knocking on your door. A good dose of extra vigilance is in order today.

      Thanks again…CG

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  • Chuck – while I am not a resident of San Carlos, I think you are right on with your description of, what seems like every community goes through with therse types of groups, known as traveling sales crews. I am the Director of Communications for a direct selling company in Nashville, TN, http://www.southwesterninternship.com. We have had a program for college students since 1868, including many in California, in which we help them run their own business. We are very much legitimate and the students do sell with permits when required, in addition to over 80 hours of prior training.

    I have a blog in which I use to educate consumers and communities about the potential dangers posed by traveling sales crews and the difference between legitimate and rogue door-to-door companies. My latest blog was inspired by yours and provides a little information your readers and community may find helpful. The blog is at http://www.southwesterndifference.info.

    Also, I researched quickly on the Internet and found the Municipal Code for San Carlos. There seems to be a permit requirement and a link to it is on my blog.

    Again, thanks for your insight and entertaining blog post on this issue!

    – Trey Campbell

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  • Remember that not all solitors are scum and should be treated as such. I am a solicitor, I am a meat salesman. I am always friendly with people, would never do anything wrong to anyone out there. I do not knock on doors with a NO SOLICITORS sign, there is plenty of doors anyway. Every person I have worked with thru my years in the meat biz, which is over a hundred at least has been like me, trying to make a living as a salesman, not hurting anyone. I get bothered with they way people treat me out there, like a fly on the wall. I just ask to please treat solicitors (the ones that deserve it) with a bit of respect, a smile is all I need!

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    • The fact remains that if you knock on my door in San Carlos you are breaking the law. I am not rude, I just ask whether you have a city permit, knowing that you don’t.

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