Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

August 21, 2013

Peru wants crackdown on door-to-door sales

Ordinance would spike permit fee, require background check.

By Carson Gerber
Kokomo Tribune

---- — PERU — Door-to-door salespeople may have to start shelling out $250 to sell their goods within city limits.The Peru City Council is considering an ordinance that would increase permit fees from $10 to $250 to sell items or services door to door.City officials said the fee increase would help deter sales people who take advantage of the elderly or victims of natural disasters like the tornado that touched down last month in Peru.Peru Mayor Jim Walker said after the tornado hit, door-to-door salespeople tried to take advantage of some storm victims by offering home repairs or insurance they never intended to provide. He said some peddlers would require an upfront payment, and then walk away with the money.“Are we going to stop this completely?” Walker said. “No, probably not. But this will help those people who they’re preying on.”Peru Clerk Jackie Grey said many cities have dramatically spiked permit fees recently for door-to-door sales. She said some cities now charge up to $2,500 for a permit.“There’s been so much crime and individuals taken advantage of because of door-to-door salespeople,” Grey said. “I’m not saying they’re all like that, but that’s why most cities have raised their permit fees.”The ordinance also would require people applying for a permit to undergo a background check to ensure the salesperson would not endanger the “health, safety or welfare of the public.”County schools, athletic teams, nonprofits, churches and political parties would be exempt from paying the fee. Vendors selling goods from a cart or car, but not soliciting door to door, would still pay the $10 fee.Walker said the permit hike would also promote shopping at local businesses and could help the local economy.“I personally don’t want someone knocking on my door trying to sell me something,” he said. “If I want to buy a product, I’m going to stop at one the local stores who are paying taxes, and not give it to someone who’s walking out of town with that money.”The council tabled the ordinance after an area resident said the fee was too high for businesses starting up in Peru who wanted to do door-to-door sales. Members will vote on the fee hike in September.Carson Gerber can be reached at 765-854-6739, or at carson.gerber@kokomotribune.com.