Sales crew apologizes, promises change

Sales crew apologizes, promises change
BAKERSFIELD, Calif. -- A door-to-door sales crew working in Bakersfield is generating some concern by neighbors, but a spokesman said he apologizes for any rude behavior.

Meanwhile, a similar group is given the boot in Tehachapi, where door-to-door sales are not allowed.

About 10 workers selling Advanage cleaners have been making their way through various areas of Bakersfield, prompting complaints to Eyewitness News about aggressive behavior by the workers.

"I didn't come into Bakersfield to disturb anybody," T&B Sales Inc. spokesman Timothy Burgess told Eyewitness News on Thursday. "I came to Bakersfield to clean up Bakersfield."

But, a resident in southwest Bakersfield said she had a very troubling encounter with a saleswoman on Tuesday night.

"That person pushed herself in the door, started looking around about three times," the resident said.

She added that the saleswoman wanted to spray the cleaners in her home, and then got angry and aggressive when she was told to leave.

"I do apologize to that lady that felt too aggressive over that young (sales) lady," Burgess said. "She just had too much enthusiasm, got to calm her down."

Bakersfield police said they got three complaints about the sales people on Tuesday. One man was questioned, and when it was determined the company had the necessary city licenses, the man was let go.

Another neighbor in that area said he bought three bottles of the cleaner for $120, and the product did a good job. Tom Chisum also said the salesman who came to his house was very nice and seemed to need the job.

"He said he was going to school," Chisum said. "He was married, he had one (child) on the way, I guess he had gotten out of prison for drugs at one time."

Burgess said he hires young people, often from inner-city areas of places like Detroit, Chicago and Los Angeles.

"My concept is, no matter what kind of background, I'm going to run a background check on you," Burgess said. He explained he trains the workers in sales techniques, with the hope of providing them with career skills.

Eyewitness News investigated sales crews with Advanage cleaners last December. Burgess said that was a different sales company, they were not his workers.

"Even though they're not T&B, I apologize for the rudeness and all the complaints they had."

At that time, neighbors also complained they couldn't get any information about the company. Sellers would take away brochures, if the resident didn't buy any products. So, they had no one to complain to.

Burgess admitted that could be a problem, and there could be a solution.

"Once again, I apologize," Burgess said. "We might have to come up with something to leave folks that don't buy."

The company selling Advanage products in Bakersfield last December listed a home office in Florida, Burgess' company is out of Georgia. And, Burgess said he doesn't know what company may be currently selling Advanage in Tehachapi.

Eyewitness News heard from two Tehachapi residents who were very concerned with the sales tactics they encountered. One resident said the sales woman barged into her home, and insisted on using the products in her kitchen and bathroom.

Tehachapi Police Chief Jeff Kermode told Eyewitness News his department got three complaints on Wednesday. Officers contacted two sales-people and told them to leave. Kermode said door-to-door sales are not allowed in Tehachapi.

In Bakersfield, residential sales like this require a business license and door-to-door solicitation permit. T&B Sales does have that in place. They took out the permit on Feb. 23.

Bakersfield Police keep track of the solicitation permits, and officers say seven other groups now have valid permits, it's not clear how many may be using them at this time.

Burgess said his sales crews work in a given community for two months. He said the workers stay in local hotels, and are driven to various neighborhoods in vans.

And he said crews are trained, and as of Thursday he was re-emphasizing that.

"I had a meeting this morning with all my sales group, letting them know to tone it down," Burgess said. "We came to serve the people that know Advanage, love it, swear by it, and give them more. The folks that don't buy, make sure to tell them God bless you. I'm sorry. Anyway, have a great day."