City rejects solicitor license [UPDATED]Published 9:42am Tuesday, July 19, 2011 Updated 11:43am Tuesday, July 19, 2011
The Fergus Falls City Council blocked on Monday a major home security company from selling door-to-door in the city. The council rejected the appeal of Vivint, Inc. based on what qualifies under city policy as bad business practices.
Under city code, a business has bad business practices if it has received three or more complaints to the Better Business Bureau (BBB), a state attorney general’s office or a similar organization within the last 12 months.
After doing a background check on the company, Police Chief Kile Bergren found that Vivint definitely qualifies, having had over 1,400 complaints filed with the BBB in the last three years. He recommended that the city not provide Vivint with a solicitor license at a committee meeting last week, but Vivint sent attorney Peder Larson to appeal that decision at Monday night’s meeting.
“Because of technology and wireless technology, they are on a path to be a significant company in the home security business,” Larson said of Vivint.
Larson took issue with some language in city code related to what he believed was unclear wording, but one of his main appeals was that Vivint is not a bad business. He explained that Vivint is the fourth-largest home security company in the country, with around 800,000 customers nationwide and two products that were rated a “best buy” by Consumer Reports.
“This isn’t just a fly-by-night company,” Larson said.
However, the council was swayed by staff recommendations and Bergren’s findings. Of the 1,400 complaints, more than 300 came in the last 12 months, and the Oregon attorney general’s office has taken warning actions against Vivint twice after hearing complaints about misleading and aggressive sales tactics, including reports of salesmen refusing to leave potential customers’ property. There have also been complaints in other states and cities, including Moorhead.
Larson dismissed the city’s “three strikes” bad business practices policy as too restrictive.
“People complain to the Better Business Bureau because someone came and knocked on their door,” Larson said. “If your standard is three complaints and we have 800,000 (customers), you’re going to have discretion to deny a license to any large national company who wants to come into Fergus Falls.”
However, Alderman JoEllen Thacker pointed out that most solicitors have their licenses approved in Fergus Falls and do not meet the bad business practices requirements.
The request for a license was unanimously turned down.Tags: city council