Door-to-door sales: Questions for jobseekers – National Consumers League

Considering a job in door-to-door sales? Teens looking for potential work may need help distinguishing legitimate door-to-door sales opportunities from dangerous traveling sales crews.

Teens interviewing for a new sales job should ask the following questions to determine whether the opportunity is legitimate or dangerous:

  • Will I be an employee or an independent contractor?
  • What will be withheld, if anything, from my pay (e.g., taxes, social security, living or travel expenses)?
  • What is the work?  What is expected of me?
  • What are the working conditions?  Ask about hours, travel, and living arrangements.
  • Do I get any time off?  How much and when?
  • Will I have to travel away from home?  Where will I be going?  How can family and friends reach me?
  • Where will I sleep each night?  Who will arrange sleeping accommodations – me or the company?  Who will pay for these accommodations?
  • How will my living expenses while traveling be handled;
  • How will I generate income, how it will be calculated, and how often will I receive my pay?  In what manner will I be paid (i.e., by cash, corporate check)?  Will I receive a statement with my pay that shows income earned and deductions?  How will commissions, bonuses, and regular pay be calculated?
  • Is there a training period?  If so, how long does it last?  Will I be paid while I’m in training?
  • Will I be paid for sales meetings and how often are they held and for how many hours?
  • Will an experienced sales agent or trainer come with me for my first few sales calls?
  • Can I be fined for not showing up at sales meetings or making friends with other salespeople?
  • Will I be working in an area that requires door-to-door salespeople to obtain licenses or post bonds?  If so, do I have to file the application and pay the fee or will the company do this for me?
  • Who does the driving?  Must drivers meet any requirements?
  • What is the time period of the contract?
  • If things don’t work out and I decide to quit before the contract period ends, is there any penalty for me, and who will pay for my transportation back home?

Why are the answers to these questions so important?  The answers can help you spot bad practices, which often go hand-in-hand with traveling sales crew scams.  Most traveling sales crews report to a crew chief, who decides where and when they will work and maintains accounts for the entire crew.

Former salespersons on traveling sales crews have reported that they never received or saw a statement of their individual accounts and therefore never knew how much money, if any, they were making.  They were given a daily or weekly “allowance” by the crew chief, who based the payments on their accounts.  This allowance had to cover food, clothing, and personal expenses, but they had no way of knowing if the accounts were accurate or how much they could expect to receive at the end of each day or each week.

Don’t allow yourself to be rushed or pressured into signing up. Remember, they need you more than you need them.  Watch out for claims that they only have room for one more person and you have to say “yes” immediately or lose out.  If you are unsure of the offer, take the time to discuss the pros and cons with relatives and friends and call your local Better Business Bureau, state attorney general’s office, state department of labor, or the Direct Selling Association to see if they have received any complaints about the company.