Knock knock: Who shouldn’t be there

rounded 3-d stick figure all white/gray knocking on a non-descript wooden door

Knock Knock

Who’s there?

Clipboard guy.

Clipboard guy who?

Clipboard guy who shouldn’t be here but I’m going to try to sell you something anyway. 

Now that the weather is better, some windows, doors, siding, roofing etc. companies will come knocking. Here’s what you need to know to keep them from disturbing your peace.


Like most municipalities, Haverford Township has regulations regarding the solicitation of business. We have codes that are quite clear. All business people must follow them, and that includes businesses based in other towns that wish to knock on doors to drum up interest. SPOILER: These regulations are rarely followed. Many businesses that send (usually younger) people to knock on doors routinely disregard township laws. 

Here is a summary of Chapter 130 of the Haverford Township Code: If a business that wants to send someone to knock on doors, it must register with the Township, and solicitors must carry a badge issued by the Township on their persons. This includes everyone who is in the group knocking on doors, even “helpers.” They must check in with the Township on each day they want to knock on doors, along with everyone in their party. They must not approach any properties that are on the DO NOT SOLICIT list, maintained by the Township and provided to them when they register. They must not approach properties that are displaying a “NO SOLICITORS” sign, whether or not those properties are on the DO NOT SOLICIT list. Failure to adhere to these regulations can carry fines and involvement of the police. (Charitable organizations are mostly exempt from these rules). 


The police advise us to never open our door to strangers, and really, not even to people known to us that we weren’t expecting. That second part seems a bit extreme, but police think in terms of bodily safety first. It is reasonable to not open your door to any stranger. Here at Havertown HQ, we have a window next to the front door through which we can speak to visitors or solicitors. If you do not have a way to speak around or through the door, do not open it. This includes anyone knocking at your door who is dressed in PECO or other worker uniforms, especially if they are unexpected. You are under no obligation to make strangers think you are polite. If you feel unsafe at any time, dial 911. 

When a solicitor comes to your door and if you have a safe way to speak to them, ask to see their badge. We are on the DO NOT SOLICIT list here, so we don’t bother asking to see their badge. (Sign up for the DO NOT SOLICIT LIST.) We know they have not registered with the Township because if they had, they would have skipped our Havertownies HQ’s house. The police tell us we are welcome to call and report an unregistered solicitor. Sometimes (rarely around here but it happens) criminals will pose as businesses or charities just to see which homes are empty, which house elderly residents, etc. Calling the police won’t get anyone “in trouble.” The police will search for and stop the solicitor and inform them of the policies. It will be very unlikely to result in an arrest if the person was simply ignorant of the Township laws. What we like to do is answer the door (through the window) and inform the person that they are not allowed to solicit in the Township without a permit. We suggest that they return to their boss and inform them that the cops will be called if they keep knocking on doors.

rounded 3-d stick figure scratching head in front of three wooden doors

We know. Calling the cops seems an extreme reaction to some kid trying to sell us some windows. But here’s the deal: the police know about different scams happening in neighboring townships. They are on the lookout for “solicitors” matching reported descriptions. We can’t know everything the police are looking for. It’s OK to dial 911 to let them know there is someone knocking on doors. Try and take a note of the description. Male/Female, general age, skin color, height, weight, time of knock, what they were purportedly selling.

We have laws in this township that are here to protect everyone, but most importantly we need to protect our elderly who may not be aware of how scammy these solicitors can be. Sure, it may be hard for a new business to get a foothold, but knocking on doors without respecting the people of this township and our laws is not good business practice. How will they do the job right when they can’t even take 5 minutes to fill out some paperwork? It doesn’t bode well, for sure. And the bosses of these solicitors know full well that paperwork is required. They just don’t bother.

So it’s a judgment call. If the knock doesn’t bother you, it is OK to let it go. We’d like to see more people take these lazy businesses to task, but not everyone has the energy for that. But perhaps next time you see your not-as-street-smart neighbors, let them know that knocking on doors isn’t the way it used to be back in the day. 

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