Attorney General Hardy Myers today announced the filing of a settlement agreement with an Illinois man whose employees sold cleaning products door-to-door using a variety of misleading sales pitches in order to obtain orders. The sales approaches included claims that the company was raising money for the Mid-Valley Women's Crisis Service in Salem.
Named in an Assurance of Voluntary Compliance filed in Marion County Circuit Court is Kevin Scarborough of Chicago, Illinois, who does business in Oregon as K & S Enterprises of Ogden, Utah.
"Oregonians should be extremely cautious when it comes to buying anything from a door-to-door salesperson," Myers said. "Experience tells us that sales pitches emphasizing special connections with local businesses, schools or charities are oftentimes fabricated in order to sell a product. Always ask for written information and take the time to check out the company and the reliability of the sales pitch before giving them any money."
Scarborough and his crew arrived in Oregon in late November selling Advanage (sic) citrus cleaner door-to-door in the Portland, Tigard, West Linn and Salem areas. K & S crew members told consumers that a percentage or all of the money earned from the sale of the product would be donated to the Women's Crisis Center, programs for inner-city youth from Chicago and Detroit, victims of the September 11 attack in New York City, or to victims of domestic violence. Scarborough admitted that all of the money was going to the company and not to any non-profit organizations.
Consumers called the Mid-Valley Women's Crisis Service to verify the pitch, only to discover that the Salem charitable organization had no connection with K & S Enterprises. A newspaper article warned readers of the problem and consumers reported separate incidents involving the company to the Attorney General's consumer protection office.
Department of Justice investigators found that K & S violated several state laws including the Unlawful Trade Practices Act for misleading consumers about the company's connection with local charitable groups, the Charitable Activities Act for not being registered with the Department of Justice as a professional fundraiser, and Corporation filing statutes for failure to register its assumed business name with the Secretary of State. Employees also failed to provide certain disclosures required by law in the first 30 seconds of the door-to-door sales pitch.
Scarborough agreed not to violate Oregon laws in the future and paid $500 to Mid-Valley Women's Crisis Service and $500 to the Department of Justice consumer protection and education fund.
DOOR-TO-DOOR SALES IN OREGON
Door-to-door sales in Oregon are regulated by federal, state and, in some cases, local laws. It is important for consumers to be familiar with these laws.
Door-to-door salespersons are required to:
In the first 30 seconds of their sales pitches, identify themselves, the company whose product they are selling and the price of the product.
Inquire in the first 30 seconds of their presentations if consumers are interested in hearing additional information about the product. If the consumer indicates that he or she is not interested, the salesperson must immediately leave the premises.
Make all sales presentations as clear and accurate as possible.
Obtain sales permits from local governments where required.
Supply consumers with written contracts or receipts and two copies of a cancellation form explaining the rights of consumers to cancel their orders.
Generally, a consumer has three days to change his or her mind after making a door-to-door purchase of $25 or more under both state and federal home solicitation laws. A consumer wanting to cancel his or her order has only to return one of the cancellation forms to the business by midnight of the third business day following the sale. Proof of the mailing date and proof of receipt are important, so consumers should consider sending the cancellation form by certified mail so they can obtain a return receipt.
Upon cancellation of the order, the business is required within 10 days to return all papers signed by a consumer, refund all money, return any trade-in items and schedule a time to pick up any purchased products. The business has 20 days to actually pick up the product. Consumers agreeing to return products to a merchant through the mail should be reimbursed for mailing expenses.
In Oregon, if consumers buy memberships in health spas, campgrounds or timeshares or sign a contract with a credit services organization, there are specific laws with "cooling-off " periods that apply but the three-day cancellation rule does not apply to all types of contracts. It does not cover sales that are made at a seller's regular place of business, sales made by mail or over the phone or on the Internet, sales of products that cost under $25, or sales involving real estate, insurance, securities or emergency home repairs.
Consumers wanting information about purchasing goods or services may call the Attorney General's consumer hotline at (503) 378-4320 (Salem area only), (503) 229-5576 (Portland area only) or toll-free at 1-877-877-9392. Justice is online at www.doj.state.or.us.
Jan Margosian, (503) 947-4333 (media line only) firstname.lastname@example.org