Strongsville, Ohio—a suburb of Cleveland—has been cracking down on door-to-door solicitors for years. According to Cleveland.com, the city has had an ordinance in place since the 1990s that requires solicitors to register with the city and go through background checks. Those requirements are already more rigorous than those solicitors face elsewhere in the country, but according to the same Cleveland.com report, the requirements are only going to get more rigorous. Going forward, all solicitors will face more in-depth background checks, and some will even have to pay a small fee to work in the city.
Door-to-door salespeople are frequently looked upon with skepticism, annoyance, or even fear—no matter the location or situation. Countless businesses and homes nationwide bedeck their doors with "No Soliciting" signs. In Strongsville, it sounds like the bulk of the trouble with door-to-door solicitors has occurred in residential areas rather than in relation to commercial businesses. The city reportedly first imposed regulations on solicitors in the 1990s after local homeowners complained about having salespeople show up at their doors late into the evening.
Per the Cleveland.com report, that 1990s ordinance hasn't exactly deterred solicitors in the Strongsville area. On the contrary, after a hailstorm left many homes in the area with damage a few years ago, solicitors went door-to-door in Strongsville's residential areas, setting up repair plans with residents. Most of those repairs were never completed. Resident complaints also indicate that, despite Strongsville's regulations, solicitors are becoming more aggressive lately. Typically, companies that perform cold calls teach their salespeople to "never take no for an answer." As a result, a solicitor just trying to do his or her job can come across as vaguely threatening—particularly to homeowners who have “No Soliciting" signs or poor prior experiences with salespeople.
New regulations are meant to keep solicitors from harassing homeowners who are clearly not interested in what they are selling. For years, Strongsville has required solicitors to register with the city and provide an array of personal and professional information. Among the pieces of information that solicitors have to provide on their city applications are Social Security numbers, vehicle license plates, information about the companies they work for, and details about what they will be soliciting and where.
Previously, the city only ran local background checks on these solicitors. Going forward, Strongsville will expand the process to include checks through the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and the FBI. Applicants will have to provide fingerprints.
Some solicitors will need to pay a small fee of $25 if they wish to operate legally in Strongsville. This requirement will not apply to all salespeople. Rather, the $25 fee is exclusive to door-to-door solicitors who are asking for donations to promoting a specific cause. Salespeople promoting a product or service will not have to pay the fee.
Ultimately, this type of program is a smart one that other cities and towns might consider implementing. As mentioned above, door-to-door solicitors often mean no harm and are just trying to do their jobs. However, these types of salespeople also often employ tactics that can make their prospective customers feel annoyed, harassed, or downright threatened. The updated ordinances in Strongsville should help to create an atmosphere in which solicitors know to be more respectful of people who are not interested in their products, services, or causes.