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April 10, 2012 7:41 am

EDITORIAL: Don’t want salesmen knocking on your door? Post a sign

Written by Tessa Schweigert

Door-to-door salesmen have made their way around Powell in recent weeks, knocking on doors and prompting some residents to call police to report the unwanted solicitors.

While it used to be illegal in Powell for salesmen to knock at your door uninvited, that’s no longer the case.

The city of Powell repealed its Green River ordinance, which barred salesmen from visiting your home unless they were invited to do so. Amid concerns that Green River ordinances violate sellers’ constitutional rights, the city stopped enforcing the law a few years ago. Last year, the city replaced it altogether with a law requiring transient merchants to have a license. However, the law does not apply to peddlers and solicitors.

So what’s the difference?

A transient merchant is defined as someone who temporarily sets up a business and attempts to sell or display merchandise, but does not stay in the area for more than 90 days. A solicitor goes door to door taking orders for merchandise that will be delivered later; a peddler delivers merchandise immediately.

City councilmen worried that requiring licenses or registration for all peddlers and solicitors would burden local nonprofit groups, such as Girl Scouts taking orders for cookies or Kiwanis selling apples.

All door-to-door salesmen must be treated equally by law, whether it’s a vacuum salesman or a Girl Scout.

“If you’re going to regulate solicitors, you have to regulate them all, and if you’re going to regulate peddlers, then you have to regulate them all … the dilemma is, you can’t treat your locals differently than you do anyone else,” City Attorney Sandra Kitchen told councilmen last fall.

Residents, however, have the right to make that distinction.

If you don’t want a salesmen knocking on your door, then post a sign saying so. Be specific: “No peddlers, solicitors or transient merchants.”

If you still want nonprofit groups to visit your home, then your sign can have a line saying “Nonprofits welcome” or something to that effect. You choose who is welcome on your property.

Unless you have a sign clearly posted, salesmen have the right to knock on your door. However, they do not have the right to stay on your porch. If you ask them to leave and they refuse to, then call the police.

We understand why residents are wary of door-to-door salesmen, especially those using questionable tactics. Posting a sign on your property is the best way to avoid unwanted sales pitches.

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