Vallone wants bill to curb salesmen

Photo by Rebecca Henely
By Rebecca Henely

City Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Astoria) said he plans to introduce legislation to stop salespeople from knocking on the doors of residents who want them to scram.

Vallone said his bill would be similar to laws barring advertising materials from being left on private properties that put up “Do Not Solicit” signs.

“It is common sense that if we can ban menus and supermarket coupons from being left on our property, then we can also keep pushy salespeople and scam artists from disturbing us at home,” Vallone said in a statement. “Now solicitors will know that if there’s a sign, there’s no sale.”

The bill has not yet been introduced into the Council, but Vallone said it should be soon.

Vallone said his office often sends out many of the small white and black signs to residents in Astoria who wish to bar companies from leaving commercial ads at the home.

“They’re hugely popular and they work,” the councilman said.

But Vallone said recently he has heard numerous resident complaints of salespeople — many of whom are aggressive, rude and persistent — visiting people at their homes.

“It happens at all hours of the day and night,” Vallone said. “It happens repeatedly.”

The councilman said many of these aggressive salespeople say they are from “energy companies” and try to seem like they are Con Edison employees. Some of the other solicitors also try to promote other scams through their door-to-door visits, Vallone said.

Anti-trust laws already ban solicitors from peddling scams, and Vallone said the fake Con Ed employees and others should be investigated by the attorney general’s office.

But he said the legislation, if passed, would give law enforcement another tool in stopping the scams and will allow for fines against companies who send harassing solicitors to people’s doors.

“Will it stop the problem? No,” Vallone said, “but it should help.”

Vallone’s legislation will not allow residents to ban politicians or religious proselytizers from visiting residents as political and religious speech is protected.

Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at rhenely@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4564.

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