Last Saturday night, at 8:30, a young guy came to my door peddling a home security system upgrade.
I listened. We talked for 30 minutes. Everything seemed fine. The information he had, the system and terms seemed like a good deal. He was good. He answered every question and concern I had.
As for timing the installation, he said the installers would alert me to when they would come, that there was no wiggle room with this special: I had to be home when they told me to be there. Made sense.
It being 9 on a Saturday night, I said sure, thinking it would be this week.
So I signed, obligating myself for a monthly payment for a long, long time.
And then he said the installers would be there, at the house, in 15 minutes.
Ah, he was not only good, but slick.
I had a moderate fit, excused myself to get a grip, then returned and told him that they most definitely would not be installing anything in my house starting at 9 on a Saturday night.
OK, OK, he said. How about 10 o’clock on Monday morning? That’s fine, I said. Still steamed, but still satisfied with what I’d done, I went to bed.
The next day brought the usual 13-hour third-Sunday day of church (Sunday school, morning service, afternoon prep, evening service, 90 miles away).
Monday morning, having slept on it twice, I had door-to-door salesman regret.
Wait, I thought: If I move and buy another house, the contract goes with me, and I’ll have to pay for the equipment that’s being installed for “free” now in the new place; and if I wind up renting, he said, I’ll have to negotiate to buy out the remainder of the contract.
Moving from our present house to another one within a few years is a real possibility. Moving into a rental is also more likely than ever.
Saturday, the salesman at my door caught me tired of body and weak of brain.
Monday morning, I had my gumption back.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why we have “cooling off” rules that allow for the cancellation of certain kinds of contracts within three business days. Thank you, Federal Trade Commission.
The rules apply to contracts made during trade show sales, for home equity loans, for delayed mail order or Internet purchases — and in door-to-door transactions.
In addition, various states’ laws allow for canceling contracts, including health club memberships, dating services and weight-loss programs, according to Nolo.com, the publisher of do-it-yourself legal books and software.
Nolo.com says you have until midnight of the third business day after a contract is signed to cancel:
“A door-to-door sales contract for $25 or more (as long as the goods or services are primarily intended for personal, family or household purposes).”
“A contract for $25 or more made anywhere other than the seller’s normal place of business — for instance, at a sales presentation at a hotel or restaurant, outdoor exhibit, computer show or trade show. This rule does not apply to public car auctions, craft fairs, insurance and securities.”
Here’s Nolo’s bottom line: “You can cancel these contracts simply because you’ve changed your mind.”
If I’d let the installers in immediately, the three-day cooling-off period still would have applied, but it would have been much more complicated, which is probably why the rush was on; it makes it a lot of trouble. As it was, I just had to send in a signed cancellation form by two-day mail.
Here’s my bottom line: Don’t let anybody rush you.