Tuesday, February 14, 2012
City to require Door to Door Sales Reps be ID badged!!
HUNTSVILLE, Alabama -- Commercial salespeople going door-to-door in Huntsville could soon be required to submit to a background check and carry a city-issued photo identification badge.
City Council President Mark Russell said the proposal is meant to provide residents some protection against overzealous salespeople who won't take no for an answer. "We've been approached by people who are feeling unsafe on their own property because of these solicitors," Russell said Monday. "Police have said that there's not much they can do about it right now."
Under the proposed ordinance, only commercial salespeople and professional fundraisers would have to apply to the city for a solicitation permit -- not Girl Scouts, religious groups, political candidates or children participating in school fund drives. Employees and officers representing charitable groups also are exempt.
The ordinance requires door-to-door salespeople or master solicitors representing larger groups to provide a current background report, including any criminal history.
Ex-convicts and parolees would be automatically disqualified. So would anyone recently convicted of a felony or a misdemeanor crime of "moral turpitude." Those who pass the background check and pay an application fee to be determined by the city clerk-treasurer's office would be given a solicitor's permit and photo ID tag. According to the ordinance, the badge would have to be "worn constantly ... in a conspicuous place" while going door-to-door.
"It just basically gives us a little more knowledge of who's out here soliciting," Huntsville police Sgt. Mark Roberts said Monday. "And if you get too many complaints from the public, it gives us the ability to take your license away. "We really haven't had that before," Roberts said.
If the ordinance passes, salespeople could not knock on doors before 8 a.m. or after sunset. Any home with a "No Solicitation" sign in the yard would be off-limits. Violators could be fined up to $500 and sentenced to as much as six months in jail. Michele Mason, CEO of the North Alabama Better Business Bureau, said her organization is "definitely in favor" of background checks on roving salespeople. Mason said there are numerous cases of Huntsville residents being misled by door-to-door salespeople, including a company that failed to deliver magazines bought for U.S. soldiers serving overseas. The permit process "may be a little bit of a nuisance," she said Monday, "but it's hopefully a deterrent for those we don't really want going door-to-door in the neighborhoods."
City Council members have scheduled a work session for 6 p.m. Thursday to discuss the proposal.