Door-to-door salesmen seem to have found a way around the City of Elko’s business license requirement: Knock on doors in Spring Creek instead.
The County does not issue business licenses. Instead, county residents who start a business are only required to apply for a “fictitious firm” name.
But after hearing from Spring Creek Association President Jessie Bahr and Sheriff Jim Pitts at a recent meeting, commissioners are looking at the possibility of setting up a business license program. It’s an issue that has come up many times in the past but never resulted in action.
Driving the proposal this time is a flood of pesky salesmen knocking on doors. Bahr told commissioners the Association receives multiple complaints daily from residents.
In the City of Elko, such salesmen face an expensive and time-consuming obstacle. They must apply for a Solicitors/Peddlers License, which costs more than $100 for the first month and nearly $700 annually. Salesmen also must provide compliance documentation from the Nevada Department of Taxation, and have their application authorized by the Elko Police Department (for an additional $25 charge).
If a salesman knocks on your door in Elko, you can ask to see his or her license. If they cannot produce one they could be rounded up by police.
The Spring Creek Association has rules against soliciting, but without a licensing system in place they are difficult to enforce, Bahr explained.
The Association recently started requiring commercial operations to file for business permits. It also has an optional permitting process for home occupations, but nothing applying specifically to peddlers. Committee of Architecture rules and regulations contain a clause that “prohibits door-to-door commercial solicitations of any kind, including sales, promotions, and general solicitations” but non-residents are not bound by the rules.
“Most of the complaints we’re getting is that they’re pushy,” Pitts told commissioners. “They get in the property and they won’t leave. We can enforce trespassing laws, but by the time we get there we don’t know who it was or who’s doing it.”
Starting a county business license program simply to curb door-to-door salesmen in Spring Creek sounds like overkill, but it may be the best way to address the frustrations of homeowners. At least the County or the Association could require peddlers to apply for permits, as the City does. The fees and red tape are an excellent deterrent.
In the meantime here are some suggestions from Washoe County on how to deal with pesky peddlers:
— If you don’t know the person, don’t open the door. Never feel obligated to greet an unfamiliar person knocking at your door.
— Always keep doors and windows locked. Storm doors or security doors are helpful when dealing with solicitors, because you can see and speak safely through the door. Never allow an unfamiliar person into your house.
— Don’t expect all perpetrators of door to door sales scams to look the part. Some are clean and well dressed and use special psychological techniques to try to get into your home or get your money.
— If you are not interested, simply close the door and lock it. You don’t owe the person an explanation.
— Stand in front of your home to see what is visible from the street. If you can see your valuable items through the front windows, so can potential burglars.
— Residents can put a “no solicitors” sign on their door to help keep solicitors away.
Many solicitors are legitimate businessmen with products or services to sell; others are looking to rip people off. The ability of Spring Creek residents to ask “May I see your license” could go a long way toward improving their peace of mind.