Traveling salesmen facing fewer restrictions

Traveling salesmen will find it easier to solicit unsuspecting customers under new rules from the Federal Trade Commission.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced Thursday in the Federal Register it is easing the restrictions on many traveling salesmen, even though salesmen who go door-to-door will still face strict rules about selling to customers outside their homes.

But salesmen who approach customers outside their workplaces, hotels and motels, convention centers, fairgrounds, and restaurants will face fewer restrictions, the FTC noted.

The FTC established what's known as the "cooling-off rule" in 1972. This gives customers three business days to cancel a sale of $25 or more and return items purchased from traveling salesmen for their money back. Products that cost less are exempt from the rule.

The rule is intended to shield customers from aggressive and deceptive traveling salesmen who pressure customers to buy a product away from their stores.

But the FTC said it will raise the exemption to $130 for traveling salesmen as long as they are not at the buyer's home. This higher threshold applies to traveling salesmen who set up shop outside of workplaces and similar areas.

However, the FTC said the $25 limit will continue to apply to door-to-door salesmen at a buyer's home.

"Some consumers feel pressured to enter into contracts with door-to-door salesmen solely to get the salesmen to leave their homes," the FTC wrote.

The FTC has been reviewing the rule since 2009.

The changes go into effect on March 13.