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UPDATE: Sudbury Mom Wants Door-to-Door Solicitors to Knock it Off

Town can help prevent unwanted salespeople from interrupting your day.

UPDATED: 1:16 P.M.

Due to an overwhelming response from the article, the has issued the following statement:

As a follow-up to yesterday's release regarding the town's solicitor bylaw, we would like to reiterate the stipulations contained within the bylaw do not apply to "non-profit" entities, although we respectfully request they notify us of targeted areas. An example of our inability to enforce compliance was illustrated last evening (April 18) where several calls were made to our department regarding suspicious individuals. With our units assigned to the officer involved in an accident and road closure, a supervisor responding from his residence to oversee the investigation was temporarily diverted. Arriving in the area he respectfully requested the group do the department a favor, given our stretched resources attending to the accident, cease their activities for the evening given several calls already received. One of the solicitors encountered, working for Clean Water Action, contacted his supervisor who refused to comply with our request, leaving the department no further options.

Although "non-profit" organizations are not required to comply with the aforementioned, they are subject to laws such as trespassing. If subjects refuse to leave your property after being told to do so, as has been the case recently, please contact our department. We will look into the circumstances as to whether criminal trespass charges are warranted. Keep in mind there are other laws as well, with which they must abide so if you feel someone may be in violation please contact our department.

Many residents have opted to be placed on the "non-solicitation" list but we wanted to be clear it does not apply to "non-profit" agencies/organizations.

Below is the original story:

On a recent weeknight, Sudbury resident Sarah Davis had just sat down to enjoy dinner with her family after a long day at work.

But that quiet dinner was soon interrupted when there was a knock at the front door.

"We weren't expecting anyone. I'm cautious, so I pulled open the shade, but I didn't open the door," she said. "There stood a guy holding some kind of badge in his hand that said 'Comcast.' I told him through the door I wasn't interested, please leave." 

But the salesperson didn't leave right away. Davis said he asked for 5 minutes of her time. She asked him again to leave, and he finally did.

But Davis was irritated. Just because this person showed a badge that read "Comcast" how could she be sure?

"I didn't know who this guy really was, so I called the police business line," she said. "The dispatcher told me the Comcast guy was registered with the police department and paid a fee for a permit.

"I don't want telemarketers calling me on the phone. I certainly don't want them knocking on my door. There are so many scams out there. I don't think anyone should open the door for anyone they don't know. I mean, it's a good thing this guy was legit, but either way, I'm still not going to open the door."

So what are residents to do if they don't want to be hassled at home by solicitors?

Well, in Sudbury, you do have help. But it may not be a well-known solution.

"I'm just finding out about it," says Mary McCormack, the administrative assistant to the Board of Selectmen. "The bylaw was enacted several years ago, and as part of it vendors have to sign up to go door to door. They then get the list when they leave police station."

To prevent unwanted solicitors, you can ask the town to put your name on a no solicitation list, similar to the national "Do Not Call List."

Just email the , to either GreenwoodC@sudbury.ma.us, or Police@sudbury.ma.us, and ask to have your name and address be put on the list.

"I had no idea the non-solicitation list even existed," Davis said. "I think the Sudbury Police Department should let more people know. Everyone is going to want their address on this list."

Police Chief Richard Glavin did post the bylaw on the town website on Tuesday.

According to Lt. Scott Nix, when vendors apply for permits, they are asked to be reasonable about when they knock on residents' doors. And should they disregard the no solicitation list, there are steps that can be taken.

"There is a warning process," Nix said. "First there is written warning. A second will result in a bylaw violation ... $50, then $100 for every subsequent violation."

Comcast representative Marc Goodman said their door-to-door salespeople comply with all local regulations regarding door-to-door solicitation and they let police know ahead of time when they will be in the area.

"Comcast communicates products and offers in a variety of ways: online, print, TV and in person at service centers and direct sales efforts," Goodman said. "Any representative is required to wear visible identification, as well as branded attire."

Verizon Media Relations Manager Phil Santoro said their employees go through strict training on company policy before sending them out and getting permits from local police.

"There is extensive training on how to dress properly, address people properly and what hours they can solicit," Santoro said. "They are clearly identified by their clothing and IDs."

Santoro added solicitors are told to stop soliciting at 8 p.m.

According to Nix, businesses are asked to send an email requesting solicitor permits. The town clerk will then add those businesses to the list.

"But we can’t control non-profits," Nix added. "We do ask cooperation from them so we can identify the names and vehicles, but they don’t have to comply."

Nix also said the Town of Sudbury is unable to ban door-to-door solicitors.

"The Attorney General’s office said it was unconstitutional to have a no-solicit bylaw," he said.

So if you want solicitors to stop disturbing your quiet family dinners, the solution is as easy as clicking a mouse. If not, you may face a knock at the door just as you are ready to cut into a juicy steak.

"Imagine if these door knocks become as frequent as the phone calls," Davis said. "I'll put a 'No Soliciting' sign at the end of the driveway if I have to."

Michael Dwells April 19, 2012 at 10:38 AM
That's scary. I'd hate a stranger knocking at my door from out of nowhere and try to sell me something. It's just unethical and disturbing. This is similar to the unsolicited calls I reported at http://www.callercenter.com. It's the reason why I signed up for the DNC and got the phone number blocking add-on offered by my telephone company.

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