Over the past several days Saucon Source has fielded a number of messages from concerned Hellertown borough residents who have been called upon by door-to-door salesmen representing an energy supplier–something that has become more common since the retail energy supply market was deregulated in Pennsylvania.
Most if not all residents seemed unaware that door-to-door salespeople must obtain a permit from the borough–commonly known as a Peddlers and Solicitors license–before they start ringing doorbells, as well as adhere to other rules. Failure to do so can result in a fine of up to $1,000 plus costs, or in lieu of that, a term of imprisonment not to exceed 30 days.
To help raise awareness about this requirement–and the consequences for failing to meet it–we ask that you kindly share the information in this story with your family, friends and neighbors, both online and in person. Doing so will help to avoid ongoing confusion, and ensure that Hellertown borough remains a safe and friendly place to call home and in which to do business.
In tandem with the borough’s codes and police departments, we would also like to remind you that you should never show personal and/or account information to solicitors, who may ask you to see a copy of a bill or some other document that contains account numbers.
Door-to-Door Salespeople in Hellertown Borough: Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Does a door-to-door salesperson have to have a permit in order to knock on doors?
A: Yes. Peddling and soliciting sales door-to-door is known as “transient retail business” in the Borough Code of Ordinances, which states that “no person shall engage in any transient retail business within the Borough without first having obtained from the Borough Code Enforcement Officer a license, for which a fee, which shall be for the use of the Borough, shall be charged, said fee to be in such amount established, from time to time, by resolution of the Borough Council.” The current license fee is $100.00 and a license is valid for seven days (except Sunday). The license holder must carry their license with them while they are soliciting door-to-door and be able to produce it upon request.
Q: What should I do when someone selling a product or service knocks on my door?
A: The first thing all residents should do is ask to see a copy of their peddlers license. “The permit will list the valid date range and have the names of all approved employees,” Hellertown Zoning and Codes Enforcement Officer Kris Russo explained. “If they have a copy of the permit, you know they have been thoroughly investigated and have permission to solicit.”
Q: What should I do if someone doesn’t have a license, or refuses to show one to me when asked?
A: Residents should contact the Hellertown Police Department at 610-838-7041 (during business hours) or 610-759-2200 (the Northampton County non-emergency number) to make police aware that unlicensed individuals are soliciting sales door-to-door in the borough. As stated above, per the borough’s ordinance regulating Transient Retail Business, individuals found to be engaging in door-to-door sales without a valid license can be fined and even jailed if found guilty of the offense.
Q: What are the rules for selling door-to-door?
A: Peddling and soliciting can only take place between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Saturday. It is prohibited on Sundays and legal holidays altogether.
Q: What is the procedure for applying and receiving a Transient Retail Business license?
A: Applicants must visit Hellertown Borough Hall, 685 Main St., Hellertown, Pa., and fill out an application. They must provide copies of photo identification, business information, vehicle information and proof of recent PA State Police background checks for all participants. If approved, they can reapply for a one-week license once every three months (each time they apply the same scenario is required).
Q: Are there exceptions in terms of who is required to obtain a license?
A: Yes. These exceptions are enumerated in some detail in the borough’s ordinance, and include children under the age of 18 (such as Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts), charitable and religious organizations, and so forth. For a complete list of those who are exempt from the license requirement, review the borough ordinance.
Q: Is this a new requirement?
A: No. The borough has required the issuance of permits to door-to-door salespeople for many years, however in 2016, the ordinance that regulates Transient Retail Business was updated to include information about food trucks.
Q: What if I still have questions/concerns?
A: If you still have questions about the procedures related to the permitting process, please contact Codes Enforcement Officer Kris Russo at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are approached by someone who does not have a permit or feel that someone who comes to your door to solicit/peddle an item or service is behaving suspiciously, you should immediately contact police at the numbers listed above, or by dialing 911.
Russo said that the borough does not issue many licenses.
He added that the solicitation permit he recently issued a group of SFE Energy employees–who have been soliciting natural gas and electricity sales in the borough’s Mountainview and Durham Terrace neighborhoods since last week–is only the third permit he has issued in 2018, to date.
Note: Lower Saucon Township also requires that peddlers/solicitors obtain a permit and adhere to rules and regulations when selling door-to-door in the township. For more information about that, click here. The township also has a No Peddling Registry residents can have their names placed upon. For that form, please click here.