The knock at my door earlier this week interrupted my lunch hour and caused my dogs to start barking. I opened the door to see who it could be this time of the day. It was a guy holding a clip board, wearing an exterminator uniform. "Oh great," I thought. "Just what I need...a salesman."

Turns out, it was exactly what I needed. Each year, fleas take over our backyard, sending my two dogs and my cat, Charlie, into scratching fits. The exterminator explained that he was hitting as many homes on my street as possible. Construction at a nearby housing addition was sending mice, rats, and all manner of vermin into the neighborhood, including ants and spiders (not to mention the fleas would be a problem soon). I had recently seen a rat near my garbage cans.

Normally, I turn door-to-door salesmen away, even though I work in sales myself. I figured if I need someone's service, I'll seek them out myself. But, the salesman went on to explain that since the company was doing so many other homes in the neighborhood, we could essentially get a "group discount". (Note: be careful. Scam artists actually use similar lines to explain how they are giving you a ridiculously "too good to be true" deal. Check out the company you are doing business with). The regular price was $165 every two months, for repeat treatments. His company was knocking the price down to $65 every two months. During the summer months, I easily spend $32 a month on my animal's flea treatments and lawn chemicals, but now I could afford to have the professionals do it. I called my wife, leaving the salesman waiting at the front door, and asked her what she thought. After all, it's her father's house. We just live in it.

"Do it," she said. She had already priced comparable services and they were more than $200 every two months. Our savings: at least $135 every two months. I took the salesman up on his offer.

Today, as promised, the exterminator truck rolled up to our house and did the complete treatment...the lawn, around the outside of the home, and inside the home, too. If we need them to come back for any reason before the next treatment, it's free.

We all hear the horror stories about door-to-door salesman who are pitching everything from driveway paving to roofing services. In this case, I double-checked to make sure the exterminator was a local business, and that I could locate the company if I had any problems. They gave me a service order with their address and phone number, and I did not pay them until the next day when they showed up to service my lawn and home. I did see them doing other homes in the neighborhood before mine as well. The company is a franchise, and also a member of the Better Business Bureau.

Some door-to-door sales are definitely scams, but other times, they can work out in your favor. Just make sure you are dealing with a reputable company, one that is local, get references whenever you can, and don't pay for anything until you either receive the merchandise or receive the service you are paying for. If everything checks out, that next knock on your door could bring big savings.


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