Occupational Licensing

Georgia City Considers Requiring a Permit to Ring Somebody's Doorbell

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"Ma'am, we're going to have to confiscate several boxes for testing, to make sure they're not fraudulent cookies. For public safety! You understand, right?"
Credit: The U.S. Army / photo on flickr

It is the year 2014, and the city of Snellville, Georgia, is worried about door-to-door salesmen scamming little old ladies.

The city council is considering requiring anybody trying to sell anything door-to-door to submit to a background check and get a permit. And no, adorable little moppets trying to raise money for the Girl Scouts and band trips are not exempted. From WSB-TV in Atlanta:

The city says it's about holding solicitors accountable after residents of some neighborhoods have had problems.

"People come door-to-door after hail storms or during the spring months to solicit, we want to make sure that those who are coming to sell something in our city, that we have a way to make them accountable and keep tabs on them," Snellville spokesman Brian Arrington said.

What an uptick in home repair scams has to do with Girl Scouts is anybody's guess, but the ordinance will require parents of children trying to raise money to register with the police and also accompany their kids on sales trips. When asked whether this proposed ordinance places an undue burden on parents, supporters say they "would work to avoid that." But requiring a background check to sell cookies to the neighbors is the opposite of working to avoid that. Presumably "requiring a background check" means that the police will be able to prohibit people from engaging in door-to-door commerce if they don't like what comes up. Could the police refuse to let a kid sell band candy because his dad was in the clink?

One neighborhood watch booster supported the ordinance because she knew of an incident where an elderly lady was talking to a solicitor and gave out all sorts of personal information, including her Social Security number. One wonders if this woman is familiar with the use of telephones and email. As a former small-town newspaper editor, I would hear regularly from people in the community and the police about the latest efforts going around to separate retirees from their pensions. Yes, these scammers are real, but targeting door-to-door salesmen for permits is a pretty silly way to try to deal with it, particularly given how likely it actually represents a very tiny percentage of consumer crime and yet has the potential to add an unnecessary burden on families in the town.

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  1. The question to ask these days is: what don’t you need a permit for?

    1. I’ll need to see your permit to ask that question.

  2. Ah Girl Scouts. When I was a kid I went to a Christian camp one summer. The boys and girls camps were across the lake from each other. They would lock up the boats, they would patrol the access roads, but we would swim the freaking lake. We didn’t exactly know what we were doing once we got across, but it sure was fun to figure it out.

    1. Its all part of Christ’s plan

  3. Huh. And SCOTUS ruled these types of bans unconstitutional only 75 fucking years ago.

    The news must travel slowly in Georgia.

    1. Opinions of old white men aren’t relevant any longer, JW.

  4. One neighborhood watch booster supported the ordinance because she knew of an incident where an elderly lady was talking to a solicitor and gave out all sorts of personal information, including her Social Security number.

    I heard that he tried to burn her house down and rape her dog!

  5. This applies to pollsters and campaigners, too, right?

    1. And census takers, I assume?

    2. And Census workers, surely.

      1. Of course not, and stop calling me Shirley.

  6. Speaking of the nanny state, USDA is finally going ahead with their Christmas Tree Tax.

    Fuck Vilsack with a rusty tree topper.

  7. Who kidnapped the Girl Scouts and replaced them with Moms?

  8. I have a friend who has a notice posted in his window next to the front door to the effect of “Any person ringing the doorbell or knocking on the door without a previous appointment consents by this action to give the owner $10.”

    1. Last time I went to McDs the yahoos in the window fucked up a simple three item order. None of the items were complicated at all. Bacon McDouble, small fry, large Diet Coke. Took them four tries to get it right.

      Meanwhile, at Wawa the touch screen works perfectly with no issues whatsoever.

      1. “But the combo has the same size for everything” /minwage cashier

    2. Fitting that it starts in France.

      Enjoy your $0/hour wage, losers.

      1. Don’t worry. Europeans, being sophisticated, will find a way to blame America.

        1. Hell, if America hadn’t forced McDonald’s on them, they’d all be eating gourmet lunches every day and there would be full employment at living wages.

          See, that was easy.

    3. The firm cafeteria where I work switched to automation several months ago. Supermarkets and big-box stores increasingly offer self-service check-out. But no, raising the minimum wage will have no effect whatsoever.

  9. Let me know when they require permits for those little bastards trick or treating. THEN I’ll know they’re serious…

  10. “Hmmm, I have this great idea to go to old ladies’ houses and scam them out of their money. But first I need a permit. Oh, well, may as well get honest work…”

    1. The only advantage I see is it makes it easier for the cops to pick up suspicious persons going door to door.

      But pass this law, and we will start hearing about perfectly legitimate people getting arrested.

  11. I think a better solution to same problem (assuming it’s really a problem) would be to make it a criminal trespass to ignore “no soliciting” signs on front of peoples houses.

    1. And there you go – no fuss, no muss.

  12. Years ago, in the early 70’s, I was a route salesman for a major dairy in Arizona. (That means I delivered milk and dairy products to customers, house-to-house.) I had to get a peddler’s license and get finger printed in the town I served, Chandler, Arizona. I thought it was an imposition then. All they had to do was call up Shamrock Dairy and ask if I was an employee there. If little old ladies can’t refuse and refute door-to-door salesmen, maybe they should not be living on their own, because they are probably not mentally competent.

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