Oregon to rein in peddlers and solicitors

Kelly J. Kaczala

        Oregon has updated its municipal code regarding peddlers and solicitors going house to house in the city.
        The changes would help revoke their license, as needed, said Law Director Melissa Purpura. It would also ensure a complete criminal background check.
        The update includes an increase in the registration fee for the application from $25 to $35.
        In addition, it provides due process to peddlers and solicitors in the event their certificate for application is revoked, she said. They can now appeal it.              
        “They can appeal their denial to the city administrator. If they’re not happy with the administrator’s decision, then they can appeal to the mayor,” she said.
        The update includes a list of offenses found in background checks that can cause the city to refuse an application, she said.
        “We want to make sure we’re including offenses like theft and fraud due to the fact that they are going around and soliciting to our residents,” she said.
        City Administrator Mike Beazley said some communities don’t have registration requirements.
        “There’s a part of me that wishes we could say, `Don’t come here at all.’ We can’t get away with that. Under Ohio law, solicitors have a right to do business here. In most cases, people who go door to door are selling energy services. Every single person they ever signed up for that ends up paying more than if they didn’t sign up. They have a right to do that,” he said.
        But those residents end up calling the city to help them cancel their agreements with those solicitors, he added.
        “The challenge is to make sure your constituents know that just because the solicitors got certification from us, we don’t endorse what they’re doing,” said Beazley. “We can’t prevent them from being here. So we take an extra step - more than most communities - to go out and help police it. That’s all we’re doing. We obviously have no opinion about the product they’re selling. I don’t think any of our residents would be harmed if they never signed anything someone brings to their door.”
        Mayor Mike Seferian said residents may want to consider posting a sign on their front porch that states, “No soliciting.”
        “I thought we could come up with a sticker that has language that says, `Do not stop at this house.’ And when they get the application, it will say that in our community, people may have chosen to put these up and you are not permitted to go to these houses that post this. We would supply the stickers and give them out. We can’t tell them not to come, but residents can,” said Seferian.
        It would not only save a lot of aggravation to residents who do not want them to come do their door, it would save city staff a lot of time trying to get them out of their agreements with solicitors, said Seferian.
        The solicitors sometimes offer residents $100 Visa gift cards to pitch their services, he said.
        “But they pay dearly for their $100 gift card several months later. And when they figure that out, they want out. And we spend an awful lot of time helping people to get out of those systems.”
        “If somebody is coming to your door, we want to know,” said Beazley. “We don’t think it’s great for Oregon to have these folks going door to door getting residents to sign up for things that cost them more money. Then we have to spend time to fix it.  I don’t think it’s good for our residents or workforce. So we’re cleaning up our code.
        We just want solicitors to know we take this seriously,” added Beazley, “We understand people are doing business. We just don’t want them taking advantage of our residents saying things that aren’t true.”


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