City gets closer to door-to-door sales ordinance

Oct 11, 2013 By Alejandra Silva, Staff Writer

Consensus was reached Tuesday by the Riverton City Council that having some type of ordinance to regulate door-to-door sales was better than having nothing at all.

Currently the city has no rules, ordinance or guidance for transient merchants, said community development director Sandy Luers. She said her research found variety of ordinances, applications, or licenses in other municipalities in Wyoming that Riverton could consider.

Luers said the same issue was brought up about two years ago, but only most recently have complaints increased from Riverton residents.

"Our current city ordinances don't provide for easy remedies in these situations," Luers said at a Tuesday council work session.

When an entity does approach the city about permission to do door-to-door sales in Riverton, it usually always directed to her department. Luers said the existing contractor registration ordinance is used as a model.

"We actually regulate quite a few businesses in town, and yet we don't regulate any door-to-door salesmen, which are almost always from out of town," she told the city council.

Some municipalities, she said, do not allow any door-to-door sales, while others charge $100 a year or more for a temporary merchant license.

Some cities have regulations that require sales people to respect a "no trespassing" sign, with the threat of police action. Still other municipalities regulate only non-commercial sales, have a "no-knock list," or administer a fee if merchants don't abide by the ordinance.

"We have no rules that give any guidance that allow us to do anything," Luers said, other than a no-trespassing ordinance.

"But the person has to be very emphatic and say, 'I want you to leave my property now -- you are trespassing,'" Luers said.

Some municipalities have detailed applications or require several documents and personal information.

Riverton resident Becky Barker, who has worked as a door-to-door sales person, told the council of her experiences and recommended that the city create an ordinance.

She said the job came with a lot of pressure from managers, and many times salespeople ignored rules that didn't permit them to sell at a home.

"You are forced to make things work," she said. "Most of the salespeople that will come to your doors are under some type of pressure."

Several sales agents had warrants out for their arrest but as they hopped from one city to the next, they were less likely to get caught, she said.

"They would go to any extent for more sales," she said. "(Door-to-door selling is) getting bigger, and it's getting worse, and it's definitely coming to Riverton more frequently."

Barker told the council that smaller cities definitely rare targeted, especially to young people, and that companies don't always find out first if there's an ordinance in place. She said a license fee often makes companies may act more responsibly in their sales.

Riverton police chief Mike Broadhead agreed and said if several proofs of identification are taken from the sellers, then they may be less inclined to steal or be a nuisance.

Councilman Richard Gard noted that having out-of-state people do business in Riverton is not always negative. He said legitimate operators can help the local economy.

Barker urged the council to put together an ordinance because which could work as a deterrent to dishonest operators. An ordinance could prevent residents from becoming victims, she added.

Before the session adjourned, the council directed city staff to come up with regulations that worked best for the city and would be convenient for staff and the police department.

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