Many companies in the space have sought exemption to the TSR Amendments by utilizing a notary network to meet with clients in their homes. This may seem like a legitimate way around the 2010 TSR Amendment Provisions, but there are very serious ramifications for getting it wrong. This model must be legitimate and cannot be haphazardly assembled. Here is what the FTC says about this exemption on their guidance section:
"Suppose my company hires someone to meet with potential customers before we sign them up for our service. Do we qualify for the face-to-face exemption to the TSR?
Under the Rule, whether a particular telemarketing transaction qualifies for the face-to-face exemption will depend on the facts of each case. A telemarketing transaction qualifies for the exemption if: (1) the face-to-face meeting takes place before the sale is completed and before the consumer is required to pay or authorize payment; and (2) the meeting includes an actual sales presentation to the buyer. The key to the face-to-face exemption is the direct and personal contact between the buyer and seller. You can’t get around the Rule by hiring representatives just to hold cursory pre-enrollment meetings with potential customers."
So what does this mean? Several things. Here is how we see it
1. If a notary is meeting with your client in the role of notary, they can't also be considered a "representative" of your company. A notary is a neutral 3rd party "witness" to a signing. They verify that the signature was made and determine whether the signor is under coercion or duress. They cannot be neutral AND be a company representative in a "buyer/seller" meeting.
2. There has to be a meaningful sales presentation made to the consumer. This shouldn't be a simple script they read. It has to be comprehensive and meaningful. Notaries aren't trained in this capacity, nor are they qualified to provide a meaningful sales presentation.
3. The notary must not be performing notary duties for the sake of the meeting. It undermines the relationship you are trying to create. They must be one or the other. They are either an agent of your company, or they are a neutral witness (ie.Notary). They cannot be both.
4. The notary must be engaged as a person, not a notary, and contracted by your firm as an independent sales agent. That means they are truly an independent contractor of your firm. In order for them to be considered an independent contractor and not an employee, they must have tools and skills of the trade, a majority of which are not provided by you. They will need to be trained on the specifics of your product and company, obviously, but prior to that, they must already possess the skills necessary to be contracted to provide these specific services.
5. The notary must be contracted with your firm directly for the sake of the face-to-face presentation to truly qualify as a representative of you, the seller.
MSTARS has developed our Direct Sales Agent Training and Certification Program to create and qualify competent Direct Sales Agents for face-to-face scenarios. The training will give the Direct Sales Agents the necessary tools to successfully provide quality, meaningful sales presentations in a face-to-face meeting. We instruct on the processes involved in Debt Settlement, the mechanics of the program, the required disclosures and how to present them properly. We also train to handle adverse scenarios during the meeting. We cover every aspect of the job and then certify their knowledge with a challenging, randomized, timed exam.