A Note on ‘No Soliciting’

This last fall, as I handed out flyers for Congressional Candidate Stephen Bailey, I wondered whether all the people with “No Soliciting” signs really wanted to avoid getting campaign literature. (I avoided handing out flyers at such places.)

A family member of mine put up a no-soliciting sign that excepts youth fundraisers. That gave me the idea to post the following: “No Soliciting. No flyers, handbills, phone books, etc. Youth fundraisers and political campaigns excepted.” I think that distinguishes the sort of contacts I want from the sort I don’t want. (I just used plain paper in a sealed ziplock bag.)

Moreover, the term “soliciting” is somewhat ambiguous, so the added detail is helpful. Dictionary.com includes the following two definitions, among others: “to solicit orders or trade, as for a business”; “to offer to have sex with someone in exchange for money.” So does “soliciting” include fundraising for nonprofits and political literature?

Generally I don’t want business flyers for several reasons. First, they’re wasteful (especially phone books), and I have to spend my time throwing them away. Second, I don’t really trust flyers handed out door to door. I’d rather find a business through referral or the internet. Third, if I happen to leave for a few days, collected flyers can telegraph to would-be burglars that the house may be unoccupied.

Today I happened to be returning from a walk, and I noticed a flyer distributer read my sign and then not drop a flyer, as my sign requested. I was so impressed that I asked him who he works for. It turns out it’s Miss Jenny’s Dry Cleaner. I had the following humorous exchange with a manager of the business:

[Me] I really appreciated your flyer guy in Westminster respecting my no-soliciting/ no-flyers sign. It gives me a favorable view of your business.

[Manager] I’m sorry, but was that sarcasm? If it wasn’t, then thank you. If it was, we instruct our marketing people to avoid houses that have a “no handbills” sign, as we do not handout flyers. If you have any questions, please feel free to call me.

[Me] No, it wasn’t sarcasm. I watched your guy notice my sign and then not place the flyer. (I was returning from a walk.) So, because I appreciate your respect for property rights, I posted a link to your web page on my Facebook feed.

The manager then thanked me again.

Now, it might be said that, if I hadn’t noticed the flyer guy avoid my house, I never would have heard of Jenny’s Cleaner. Perhaps, especially as I already have a dry cleaner I’m happy with. However, if he’d placed the flyer against my stated wishes, I certainly would have had a negative impression of the business.

So, if you have a generic “No Soliciting” sign posted, I suggest you replace it with a more explicit and detailed sign. If you don’t have a sign up, you might consider whether you want to try to limit what people leave at your door.