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Thu, Dec. 12

Door-to-door solicitors require licenses

A homeowner or renter gets a knock on the door at night or on weekends from a peddler selling windshield replacements, alarms, magazine subscriptions or other merchandise.

The homeowner or renter says he or she is not interested, and slams the door.

Homeowners and renters need not be dismissive of all door-to-door solicitors, but they should not let their guard down either.

"We don't want anybody to be paranoid," said Sgt. Brandon Bonney of the Prescott Valley Police Department.

Bonney and other municipal government officials in the tri-city area advise consumers to ask the solicitors to show peddlers licenses before doing business with them. The licenses typically come with identification cards.

The towns of Prescott Valley and Chino Valley and the City of Prescott require peddlers or solicitors licenses for anyone trying to sell a product or service door to door.

Solicitors who lack licenses face misdemeanor citations if they are caught. Municipal ordinances generally exempt churches, service clubs and nonprofit entities from the license requirements.

"There is quite a process" for obtaining a license, Chino Valley Town Clerk Jami Lewis said. "Very few people do it because they are not willing to go through the process."

She said a person in charge of peddlers must fill out an application, which every peddler must do so as well.

The peddlers then must undergo a background check from the police department, Lewis said.

Door-to-door businesses must pay a license of $102 per day for a group and $9 per peddler per day, Lewis said. The peddler's license comes with a $50 deposit that the town refunds when the solicitors return ID cards to the Town Clerk's office when they are done doing business in Chino Valley.

Similar requirements apply in Prescott Valley, according to the town's ordinance. Among other things, would-be peddlers must fill out an application, submit a recent photo, state whether the person has been convicted of any crime or violation of a municipal ordinance, and pay a $20 fee with $5 for each additional helper.

As in Chino Valley, the peddler's license applicants undergo background checks at the police department.

The City of Prescott requires licenses "so we know who is out there going out soliciting," said Matt Dunbar, tax and licensing supervisor.

Dunbar said fees are $25 for tax licenses for solicitors who do sales, and $50 for peddlers, solicitors and transient merchants. They also pay $10 for ID cards for each person who makes sales.

The licenses are good for a year, Dunbar said.

The Town of Dewey-Humboldt does not require licenses, Community Development Director Dennis Price said.

"It has come up before the (Town) Council a couple of times," Price said. "It has not become a priority."

Price said he is unaware of any complaints about solicitors.

Lewis said, "Now, we don't get too many complaints, but people still call to make sure. People here expect solicitors to be licensed."

Some Prescott Valley residents have complained about solicitors being too pushy, Bonney said. Police officers will question the solicitors to make sure they have proper documentation.

"We don't always catch them," Bonney said.

Local jurisdictions that include Prescott and Prescott Valley also are empowered to revoke licenses. Prescott Valley's ordinance states the town may revoke licenses for a variety of reasons, including fraud, misrepresentation or incorrect statements.

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