Monday, August 15, 2016

Do companies put homeowners or renters at existential personal risk by hiring door-to-door sales people?


Back in 2002, after my “career-ending layoff”, I did field an employment ad from Time Warner that suggested possible earnings of $75000 a year.  When a recruiter called me back, yes, this was a door-to-door selling job, mostly of cable systems in new real estate developments around the Twin Cities.

Of course, with me that ended the discussion.

It is true that overall crime rate is down, but brazen crime that can ruin individual lives forever is surfacing in menacing ways.  Opening your door to an unannounced solicitor risks home invasion.
 
Most communities have ordinances requiring solicitors to carry ID.  It probably has to be visible.

 Yet, my experience is that very few people who canvas neighborhoods for sales or for donations or even electioneering display ID properly. People will say they are here to "present" not "sell".

So, a company says, it is providing otherwise economically challenged people jobs as door-to-door salesmen.  People who are better off have a moral obligation to play ball.

Maybe.  But it isn’t far from saying, employer, you’re asking homeowners or renters to take existential risks with the rest of their own lives to even open a door to someone they don’t know -- home invasion.  Imagine being crippled and pitiful, in a nursing home for the rest of your life, because of something someone else who had nothing to lose did.  The term victim gets “useless”.

Here are a couple of missives on the topic, from Crime Doctor and Patch (California).

Okay, we can get into some side discussions.  Insularity of the “well off” is a huge political problem, as well as social, that may feed resentments and divisions further.

Or, we can make the same remarks about other kinds of marketing jobs, including sending emails (spam), or telemarketing (robocalls).  Yes, people are getting desperate to make a living.  Companies want to hire them and want consumers to accept some risk.  After all, you take a risk whenever you drive a car, right?  You can wind up a vegetable because of a drink driver.  It’s the other person’s fault, but you’ll still be what you are.

End-consumer sales used to be a more respected way to make a living than it is today, in many quarters, at least.

Yes, there is a problem.  Many people, who seem stable and productive, have weak social capital, and don’t communicate well with people who really have needs.  They don’t have relations with others where they have each other’s backs against “enemies”.

But in the short run, companies (and political campaigns) have a moral obligation to consider how they run door-door operations.
As the video above says, the ultimate test may be door-door selling of home security.  But why not just sell by appointment when a consumer calls?  

1 comment:

Bill Boushka said...

A contractor for an pest control company (invited on a scheduled appointment) told me today that "no solicitation" signs on homes only tempt sales people from high-pressure companies to try harder to sell to you (and consider this an indirect invitation). That is quite troubling. In a "stand your ground" state, trespassing might be viewed as legal justification for weapons use. Or a homeowner could call police or press charges against the salesperson as individual; the resulting publicity could cause the company to stop selling at all in a particular state. This issue has the potential to become very ugly, because people have to make a living, and can't afford to live in a world where homeowners can't take any hospitality risks because no one has their backs.