Sticker will help residents avoid solicitors in Oregon

Kelly J. Kaczala

        In an effort to reduce unwanted solicitors from going to residents’ homes, Oregon has come up with a way to keep them from knocking on your doors.
        Residents can obtain a static cling sticker to be placed on their windows that will let solicitors know not to ring their doorbells or knock on their doors.
        For years, Oregon has received several complaints from residents about solicitors trying to sign them up for their services. Most complaints are about energy marketers who promise cheap rates. Residents sign contracts, then later learn that costs are actually higher than the service they once had.
        “We have been inundated here at different times by people complaining about solicitors coming to their door, asking what they could do to possibly avoid people approaching them,” said Mayor Mike Seferian at a recent city council meeting. “A lot of times they are selling gas or electric rates. People don’t really know how to respond to them. So what we have done is come up with this static sticker. They’re kind of neat because you can put them on the inside of a storm door. When you want to clean the window, they can pull it off and put it back on. With this, solicitors are not permitted to come to that house. If they do, then people could call the city and complain. We would then revoke their license that allows them to come.”
        The stickers, which state “No peddlers or solicitors allowed,” are currently offered for free at the municipal complex on Seaman Road.
        “I’ve taken some to hand out to different people I’ve come across,” said Seferian. “We think it’s a good plan to give out so people can avoid this.”
        Solicitors who apply for licenses will be notified to look for the stickers.
        “If they say they weren’t aware of it, or come up with excuses, I suppose it is possible that they could slide through without being advised. But they will be advised when they get their permit that this is on the house. We think it could alleviate a lot of aggravation that happens throughout the community,” said Seferian.
        Oregon has, in the past, looked for ways to resolve this issue.
        In June, the city updated its municipal code regarding peddlers and solicitors going house to house. The changes would help revoke their license, as needed. It ensures a complete criminal background check. A list of offenses found in background checks, like theft and fraud, can cause the city to refuse an application. The registration fee was also increased to $35 from $25.
        “We think the stickers would be a real benefit,” said Seferian. “We can’t just tell them, `No. You’re not permitted to go into the City of Oregon.’ We believe, if we get enough of these stickers out there, solicitors might lose the desire to want to come and even apply for the permit.”
Costly contracts
        Administrator Mike Beazley said people who have signed these contracts have never saved money.
        “We have yet to find anyone in Oregon who has ever saved money by signing up for gas or electricity when people come door to door,” he said. “Invariably, they are on the phone to us trying to figure out how to get out of some contract they signed. The mayor came up with this approach as a way to help.  It’s very hard for us to prohibit people going door to door. But we’re trying to do everything we can to give our residents an easy way not to have to entertain these people on their porches.”
        Seferian said some of the energy companies offer $100 Visa gift cards to sign up. “That $100 gift card usually costs residents hundreds and hundreds of dollars because the introductory offer disappears,” he said.
        “People can save money if they legitimately worked for that company and they got an actual discount,” he said. “Other than that, we haven’t found a way for them to save money.”
        Senior citizens are mostly targeted by the marketers, said Beazley.
        “They will knock on any door, but they target a lot of seniors. Some marketers imply they are from the city. They will tell them their energy contracts are expiring, and they have to act. None of that is true,” said Beazley.
        Sandy Garverick, executive assistant with the city administrator’s office, told The Press that the administration ordered 1,500 stickers. Those who are interested in obtaining one should contact her at 419-698-7095.
        “People can call me and get these stickers,” she said. “The city bought them, but we’re not charging anyone. We’ve had them for about a month.”
        In addition to the city administrator’s office, the stickers are also available in the tax division and the water billing division, according to Garverick.
        “In fact, I’ll take some up to the security officers in the front of the building. When people come in, they don’t even have to step more than three feet into the building. They can grab one and go back out,” she said.
        The Ohio Consumers Counsel (OCC) urges consumers to use caution when confronted with door-to-door sales of energy. Decisions about buying energy are complex and best made after careful review of information not immediately available with a door to door marketer. Consumers should not provide a copy of their utility bills or share any personal identifying information with an energy marketer at their door.


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