Monday, February 05, 2001

Sales tactics bring complaints

By Allen Howard
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        ANDERSON TWP. — Door-to-door sales by for-profit and nonprofit groups are back on the nuisance list in the township.

        In 1999, township officials considered banning all solicitors but backed off when organizations and companies that solicited in the area said that would violate free trade.

        Township officials say that in the past several weeks residents have started complaining again.

        “We recognize (solicitors') rights to operate, but we don't like some of their tactics and how they may be taking advantage of elderly people,” said Peggy Reis, a trustee.

        The township does regulate for-profit solicitors by requiring them to register and get licenses, but some residents said that is ineffective.

        “We have always had soliciting out here, and it seems to be very common in townships,” said former trustee Robert Dorsey, who lives in the 1000 block of Witt Road. “I don't buy from them, and I really don't feel intimidated by their tactics, but I realize others might.”

        Township officials sent out a letter last week, advising residents what to expect and explaining how solicitors are regulated.

        Trustee Russ Jackson said that while they can require registration and fees from for-profit groups, they can require the nonprofit groups only to appear at the township office and give their names, addresses, supervisor contact, and establish that the group is tax-exempt.

        A big concern in Anderson Township is that many of the solicitors have criminal histories.

        “We have done background checks on some and learned that they had criminal records, such as robbery, assault, and breaking and en tering,” said Sgt. Mike Patterson, officer in charge of the Anderson Township Sheriff's substation.

        “But there is nothing criminal about soliciting,” he said.

        Many residents have their own ways of dealing with solicitors.

        Tom Caruso of the 2200 block of Donnington Place said he didn't feel intimidated by the solicitors.

        “I have the choice of not opening the door to deal with solicitors if I don't want to,” Mr. Caruso said.

        Unfortunately, townships are powerless to change the law, Mr. Jackson said.

        “Even when we find solicitors with criminal records, sheriff's deputies can't treat them any different from Girl Scouts selling cookies,” Mr. Jackson said.

        Mr. Dorsey thinks the most effective solution now would be more police deployment.

        “We know we have people doing what they feel is a legitimate service, and we have those using the aggressive tactics which become annoying. I think the presence of patrol cars could scare off the aggressive tactics,” Mr. Dorsey said.


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