The doorbell rings and you don’t recall making any plans for visitors. There is that thing you ordered from Amazon, so maybe it’s the delivery guy. You open the door to find a guy with a clipboard wearing a polo shirt with the logo of a security company. Or maybe it’s a cable company or a roofer. Before you can hardly say hello, they launch into their pitch, making sure not to pause long enough to hear your “not interested” reply. If you’re not careful, they may get a literal foot in the door and take up a lot of your time if you’re lucky. If you’re not so lucky, they’ll get a chunk of your money too.
They come during dinner. They come when you’ve just laid down for a Sunday afternoon nap. Worse yet, they ring the doorbell right when you finally have the baby asleep. The baby cries, and the dogs go nuts.
They show up at the most inconvenient times, and it’s all too rarely something affordable and delicious like Girl Scout cookies.
According to records that The Lewisville Texan Journal obtained from the city, there were only 17 active solicitation permits in Lewisville as of Dec. 6. But from reports being circulated on social media, it seems they get around.
Homeowners aren’t just frustrated with the interruptions. This time of year, it gets dark early, and many people have packages waiting on their doorsteps after Christmas shopping online. With package thefts reported daily, thieves could use peddling as a cover if their real goal is to find and steal other people’s deliveries.
But homeowners don’t have to put up with uninvited peddlers. Lewisville’s solicitation ordinance puts strict limits on door-to-door solicitors so that residents who just want to be left alone can avoid them. Knowing the law and reporting violations will help us all by keeping the itinerant pitchmen on their best behavior.
City permit required
The City of Lewisville requires that all peddlers that solicit door to door first obtain a permit from the city’s department of community development. Before granting the permit, the city has to get identification for each person on the permit, and the police department runs a background check.
Adults 18 and over who engage in solicitation activities must have a permit in their name. Individuals under 18 must have an adult sponsor with a permit.
The permit costs $40 for the company, including the first solicitor. Additional solicitors cost them $10.
The permit even applies to charities that go door-to-door, unless the resident is a member of the organization, or if the entire proceeds of the donation sought are being collected and will be turned over to a specific named individual.
The city may revoke a permit for good cause, including misrepresenting anything in their application to the city or in their sales pitch to customers, as well as any violation of the city ordinances or breaches of the peace.
Permits last no longer than six months, and may not be transferred to another person.
Must display permit on request
If they show up at your door, then they must have a permit, and they must display it to you or any law enforcement officer upon request.
That permit must have their name and the name of their company on it. Above is an example of what a Lewisville itinerant merchant permit looks like.
Lewisville’s permit is printed on an 8.5 by 11-inch sheet of paper.
While some salesmen may wear company badges or ID tags, those are not enough. Residents have the right to ask to see the Lewisville permit. If they do not have it on them or refuse to display it when asked, then they are operating unlawfully. Anyone who would operate unlawfully to come to your door may not have the best scruples when it comes to delivering whatever product or service they are selling.
If the you have questions about the validity of a permit, you may call Lewisville’s Development Services division at (972) 219-3470.
No rings or knocks after 8 p.m.
Whether or not a person has the proper permit to solicit door to door, the city ordinance does not allow solicitors to ring your doorbell, knock on doors, enter your property or otherwise disturb you after 8 p.m. or before 8 a.m. Especially this time of year when it gets dark early, this one needs to be enforced. If they ring after 8 p.m., call the police.
Stay off the grass
Peddlers and the people who stick flyers on your door can sometimes have a bad habit of cutting across lawns. It’s not just rude. It’s not allowed. Lewisville Chief of Police Russ Kerbow said that they must use your walkways and sidewalk to go from house to house.
Obey the signs
Perhaps the biggest power a homeowner has is to simply opt out of door to door solicitations by posting a sign. Under the city ordinance, if a homeowner posts a sign bearing the words “No Peddlers” or “No solicitors” or any similar language, then it becomes unlawful for a solicitor to enter onto the property. Since they have to stand on your property in order to ring the doorbell, they can’t bother you.
Kerbow said the police department gets calls at all times of the year about solicitors and that they respond to all of them. “Most solicitors get a warning on the first contact but repeated calls on the same person, especially if they are too aggressive, result in a citation,” wrote Kerbow. “I encourage all citizens to ask to see the permit when someone comes to their door.”
A “no soliciting” sign is one of Kerbow’s recommendations. “… [residents] can post a ‘No Soliciting’ sign near the front door and if [solicitors] still knock or ring the doorbell, that is also a violation,” wrote Kerbow.
The most emphatic recommendation from the police chief: “Never let these guys or gals in the house,” Kerbow cautioned. He said a common scam was for the peddler to ask to use your bathroom. “Before you know it, they have rummaged through jewelry and what not in the house,” he said.
Kerbow also said some may just be casing the house for a future burglary.
Police have an easier time enforcing the soliciting ordinance if observant residents call in violations. To contact Lewisville Police about solicitor violations, call the non-emergency number at 972-219-3640. As always, if a serious crime is in progress or there is an emergency situation requiring immediate response, dial 911.
What other residents have dealt with
We asked some Lewisville residents to tell us about their run-ins with door-to-door salespeople. Here are some of their stories:
“I have experienced a solicitor who called me a racist bitch when I refused to buy his magazine subscription. It escalated from there. And he soon left the neighborhood.” – Cynthia Carmichael
“A few years ago someone came by selling cleaning solutions. I answered the door. She basically stuck her foot inside the door very quick and as she was asking to come in she slithered into my home. I was shocked it was all happening so fast. Then she poured the solution on my floor and began cleaning a spot. It was like one fluid motion. I actually yelled at her and told her to get out my house. She got real defensive and then angry as she started cussing as she backed out of my home. And more cussing and grumbling as she was leaving the driveway. I now have a no soliciting sign. Which is mostly honored. When it’s not I just smile as they start the speech and tap my sign until they say ‘ooops sorry’. I rarely have to say anything. The stink eye and tap usually does the trick.” – Tena Davidson
“Have not called police, but peephole in door is invaluable. Use it to assess who is there and whether to open the door. Sometimes, doorbell rings and one or both of us don’t bother to go to the door if we were not expecting anyone. It depends on mood and energy. What do we need from someone walking up to the door that we cannot get in minutes with the Internet and Amazon Prime? Thinking the kinds of companies that send reps out to sell that way are pretty desperate. Not even sure it is a good learning experience for Boy or Girl Scouts or other such groups where doors might be opened. Often not opened … and I am sure they find it frustrating at best.” – Dean Lampman
“Some solicitors actually will steal the no soliciting sign as a sort of trophy to take back to the hotel. They have a game of who took the most. Mostly happens with the magazine, book, cleaner people. Also the meat guy that came a few months ago (ignoring the no soliciting sign) was very rude. Shoved a paper in my hand and asked what I wanted. As he ran quickly through a couple of sales, he kept walking towards his truck, gesturing for me to go too. I asked if they had something online that I could look at. He actually walked back to me and jerked the paper out of my hand and stormed away. Good riddance!” – Lynette Jenkins
“The door to door solicitors honor my sign. I haven’t had any in a year since putting it up. I can see them coming with my video doorbell and see them turn away and respect the sign. The handbill people are hit and miss. Some of them respect the sign, but the majority are moving so fast, they probably don’t even notice. The hand bills are annoying – but not as annoying as the people.
“I had one situation with an ADT solicitor who caught me outside in my driveway. I wouldn’t let her inside although I was getting eaten alive by mosquitos outside (she was too probably) and no matter how much I said no thank you, she persisted. I finally pushed past her and went inside. She tried to follow me – but I told her if she didn’t leave, I would call the police. She then left. This was in September 2016.
“After that (prior to the sign, but after the doorbell), I had ADT come again- this time two men. I already had an ADT system installed by ADT corporate and not the door to door people (corporate told me the door to door people are third party vendors who pay to use ADT’s name — and your system may initially be ADT, but then sold off to another company. It’s in the fine print). I had an ADT sign in my yard. I told them through the doorbell that I already had a system. They tried to convince me their system was better than the one I had and just to let them look at it. I told them no thank you and to please leave. They rang the doorbell again and I ignored it. They waited a bit and then left.” – Tarah Jones
“Our sign is mostly respected, a few incidents in the last year where they knocked/rang anyways. No overtly rude individuals.” – Andrew Bickford
“A few years ago I had a female teenager come to my door trying to sell magazines and when I nicely declined and began to shut my door, she said with an attitude ‘Oh, is it because I’m black?’ Annoyed by her rude comment, I opened my door again and told her ‘No, it’s because I don’t want your stupid magazines!
… Now I have a doorbell camera and no soliciting sign and haven’t had anyone try. Hopefully it stays that way.” – Sheena Lee
“I would prefer they not be allowed. Brings too many unscrupulous people into the neighborhood. Even if it’s a legitimate business they drop off people in our neighborhoods that sometimes shouldn’t be. My worst experience was when I was working in my yard and approached by a middle aged male selling coupon books for an auto repair shop. He got more aggressive each time I told him I wasn’t interested until I had to tell him to get off my lawn and almost had to forcibly make him leave. He went down the street and began badgering other neighbors that were outside or in their cars. I called police and they got there quickly and dealt with him. Not sure what they said to him but he left. I don’t want people not known to me approaching my door or family.” – Gary and Amy Mahlke
“We have a sign and it has been respected. I LOVE it. One day though, the doorbell rang and I was surprised to see a salesman from Spectrum standing there. (Come to find out, my husband had taken the sign down for Halloween to make sure Trick or Treaters knew THEY were still welcome.). So, here he starts off on his pitch and I immediately tell him I am not interested. He then says, “So you don’t like saving money then? You like to just throw it away?” I told him, “Yep! Have a nice day” and I shut the door. Nothing like a pushy salesman to remind you to get that No Soliciting sign back up! Like others have said, we generally don’t answer the door unless we’re expecting someone. It is sad the world has come to this, but it has. The people who come to our door these days… usually want something out of us, or to scam us.” – Kay Streetman
“All that have stopped by ignore sign and ring bell. Very persistent. Not sure why this occurs. Sign very visible. We have to show them and politely say no and close door” – Liane Mullinax
“My personal suggestion is to stop any as this is home and should not be bothered. They are beyond aggressive in doing their jobs and have forced their way in before No soliciting signs don’t work They don’t care God bless you Merry Christmas” – Debbe Long
“I have a ton of them, seems like it used be more, but I just don’t answer the door anymore. As annoying as it is usually after a couple of knocks and the dogs barking they go away. I have a see through front door and a camera system so I can tell who it is and sometimes they can even see me sitting on the couch…? I would put up a no soliciting sign but they’re so damn ugly, I don’t want to be obligated to put one up just to keep them away. Classic dilemma! Haha, keep it up, I enjoy reading about other’s experiences!” – Scott Avent
“I’ve had several people walk inside my garage and start talking to me and I have told them right from the start I’m not interested, it’s very inappropriate for a stranger to walk inside someone’s garage. I have a no soliciting sign and I still get people knocking and leaving flyers on my door. Door to door sales should not exist anymore. It’s outdated.” – Josh Harris
“I have a no-soliciting sign. They respect the sign. Only exception was one person tried to offer me a roof inspection.” – Louis Nguyen
“I recorded one on my Ring doorbell calling me a “pussycat” as he walked away.” – Ricky White
“We put up a No Solicitation sign a few years ago. I was skeptical that it would have any impact. But I was amazed at how well it works. We very rarely get any kind of flyers attached to our door or door-to-door salespeople knocking. Thanks.” – Janet Fukuda
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