Door to Door Soliciting: Should it be made illegal?

Especially for private residences. I’m sick of the glut of solicitors that bother me throughout the year. From fly-by-night roofing companies, to the Latter Day Saints. If I need your ahem services, I’ll come to you, not the other way around.

My residences, and most businesses, are considered private property. You don’t see me going door-to-door, giving the hard sale to conduct my business. Can’t we rule this practice as illegal already?

Is it illegal in any state*, or other countries?

I’d also be nice to hear from anyone who looks to this practice as necessary for their business or cause. If there’s a reason why the majority of people should have to put up with this, I’d like to hear it. I consider it the ultimate, and most annoying form of spam. One that disturbs what I might be in the middle of, to a degree that interferes with the my quality of life the most. Especially when I’m napping.
*I’m from Michigan.

I don’t have a problem with it as such - I get it so rarely - but I can see how it might annoy others. My solution would be to allow people to opt out, much like the Do Not Call list.

Sad to say, though I actually am a lawyer, I don’t know whether the “No Solicitation” signs have any legal standing. I would think, especially for commercial solicitors, they could, and from a business point of view, calling on houses which display them wouldn’t be a particularly good business model to follow.

That’s sort of what prompted me to post this. I started working from home recently, and it’s becoming ever so much more noticeable to me. Also, now they can see me sitting in my front room, working away, and DING-DONG. So, now I have to attach an ugly sign to my front door to hopefully ward them off. It’d be easier to just outlaw it. Who really wants this?

Door to door soliciting is just the banner ads of pre-internet times. Which is to say they’re annoying and depending on where you live (surf) you either get almost none or a ridiculous amount of them.

I’m of two minds about them.

  1. Being solicited is awkward, uncomfortable, inconvenient, etc. and since I want to be comfortable, people should not be allowed to disturb me in my home, therefore make it illegal! Unless it’s those cute girls selling magazine subscriptions, they can come chat for a while…

  2. The people doing the solicitation have the right to improve their lot in life and if they choose to do it by politely knocking on my door and politely going away when I say no, then they should be able to. If they’re rude I should be able to beat them about the head and shoulders with a stick.

The reality is that door to door solicitaion works or people wouldn’t do it, just like spam. Therefore an approach that is more practical that questionably enforceable laws should be applied. I suggest putting up a sign on your door that says “Warning: Ebola!”

-Eben (mostly serious)

My city requires a permit for door-to-door solicitation – there may be an exemption for religious/charitable orgs, as those seem to be the only such solicitors I see.

Well, the right to persuade is pretty important to grass roots democracy. An outright ban on people coming to your door would be damaging to that. Commercial solicitation is different obviously, as commercial speech is regulated differently than political speech (not that I am totally comfortable with the jurisprudence there). But banning it rather than an opt out system seems like a sledgehammer to crack a nut to me.

I’ve given serious thought to running for City Council so I can propose a city ordinance that would make coming onto someone’s personal property and leaving trash on their doors, fall under the heading of “trespassing” and “littering” and subject to fines.

I hate that crap. I come home daily to multiple business cards rubber-banded to my door knob, real estate and restaurant menus hanging from it, and fliers stuck in, on and around my door.


ETA: I don’t object if you come to my door in the hopes of finding me home and want to talk to me about something. Just don’t leave your shit behind if you find I’m not there. Take your litter and come back another time or mail it to me.

Here’s what I have on me door now.

The Supreme Court says no.

Actually, it might. A number of people put up signs like that (or sign up for do-not-call lists) because they know they will have a hard time saying no to a salesperson. The companies want to be able to market to those people, which is why they fight against things like do-not-call lists.

Legally, those are likely to be treated quite differently (at least if you’re in the US). The Supreme Court ruled in 1942 that laws can put limits on “commercial speech” that they couldn’t put on religious or political speech or solicitation for charities due to the First Amendment. That’s why the do-not-call list doesn’t apply to callers for political parties.

You can’t seriously be suggesting that passing a law forbidding door-to-door soliciting is easier than putting a sign on your front door.

True. I guess my lawyerly belief in the goodness and rationality of human nature caught up with me again. :slight_smile:

It’s easier after the law is passed. Let’s just put this issue in the “Greater Good” category.

If everybody that didn’t want to be bothered at home by D2D bullshit put up a sign in their door, I think you’d see a lot of signage in your neighborhood. I’d rather not have that sign there. But, alas, there’s no one to stop people from tromping all over my property, and ringing my doorbell, uninvited, bothering me, just so I have to tell them to bugger off. Most of the time, as in the incident last week, when I say I’m not interested, they come back with hard sell tactics. Even the religious.

To hell with that.

You’ve just given me a great product idea that probably already exists. Replace your doorbell buzzer with the sound of a shotgun cocking.

Love your sign, and seeing the way you’ve got all that glass I understand better why you get bothered regularly.


Yes. LARGE front windows. And I’d like to keep them open what with all the fresh air and sunlight.

Whoa. I’m as irritated by door-to-door solicitors as the next guy, but is anyone else disturbed by the fact that so many people, when faced with some perceived societal problem, immediately begin saying “there oughta be a law”?

We don’t need to fill our law books with thousands upon thousands of regulations of every last behavior that might annoy someone. Not only do such laws frequently have unintended negative consequences, the very practice of whimsical legislating inflates the scope and expense of government and creates a tendency to reduce individual freedom. Before too long, you’ll hardly be able to sneeze in public without becoming a criminal.

If you don’t like people walking up to your door, put up a sign or install a fence. Sheesh.

I don’t like laws as much as the next guy, but enough is enough. I did put up a sign, and I hope it cuts down on the BS, whether it’s a law, or a sign, the practice itself is pretty pathetic, despicable and annoying. I don’t see what inalienable right someone may have to think they need to come to my door, and beleaguer me with their crap.

So yes, a law would come in nicely here, if only to cut out the abusers, or as a deterrent to those on the fence about such tactics.

I don’t have a front yard; I have stairs to my porch that lead right up from the public sidewalk, so a fence is not possible. How would you suggest I prevent people from traipsing onto my property and littering it up with their trash?

I used to keep a trash can right next to my front door with a sign on it that said “Please deposit all business cards, fliers, etc., here.” Of course they ignored it and continued to trash up my front porch. I really and truly want that practice to be covered by the anti-littering laws.

The public has a right to demand people don’t litter public areas, and fines are assessed when people are caught doing it. Why should my private property be any less protected from litter than public property?

This is exactly why it needs to be stopped. These tactics prey on the weak or ignorant. And they’re wrong too. If someone chooses to ignore my sign, and come at me harder thinking I’m going to have a hard time saying “No.”, they’re in for an eye-opener.

I keep my screen door locked. So, when somebody rings, I’m able to check them out before engaging in conversation.

Simply telling them I’m busy, through the door, is quite easy.

Yes, I agree that works some of the time. Unless it’s 20ºF out, or you’re on the couch napping, or perhaps walking around in your underwear (Hey! It’s my house, I can do what I want). Just, leave me alone!