Cable television and internet provider Spectrum has a small crew of salespeople knocking on doors in Maine despite state guidelines that discourage people from close contact with one another to reduce the spread of the coronavirus.

The company said it suspended door-to-door sales in Maine in mid-March, when the state closed schools and ordered most people to work from home. It restarted the practice in mid-June, when state restrictions were relaxed and after giving its salespeople training on safety measures, said Lara Pritchard, a spokeswoman for the company.

“This is one more way Charter (Spectrum’s parent company) connects with customers and the communities we serve,” Pritchard said. “This is just another way we reach out to customers.”

Pritchard declined to say exactly how many of its salespeople work door-to-door, characterizing it as “a handful.”

She said the salespeople are encouraged to talk to customers outside the home, if possible, and to suggest that potential subscribers call the company or visit its website if they are uncomfortable speaking face-to-face.

“Part of the training was to offer options to communicate by phone or online, (if the customer was uncomfortable) even after social distancing,” she said.


The door-to-door salespeople, who Pritchard referred to as direct sales representatives, received full pay, benefits and average commissions during the “pause” last spring, she said. Spectrum pledged in April that it would not lay off or furlough any employees for at least 60 days.

She also said that, nationwide, Spectrum has offered free broadband to nearly 450,000 households with students or teachers to help them connect with online learning, forgave $85 million in overdue customer balances and relaxed payment requirements for many customers who had a hard time paying bills because of the economic impact of the coronavirus.

Pritchard said cable and internet businesses are considered essential by most state governments so it was able to carry on most business functions during the shutdown period.

Since they returned to the streets in mid-June, she said, direct salespeople have been told to carry personal protective equipment, face coverings and hand sanitizer with them at all times. The sales representatives were told to wear face coverings where required by law, if they chose to or if customers asked them to wear them. Gloves were also provided “as an added safety measure,” Pritchard said.

Door-to-door sales are seen as another tool in the company’s effort to sign up subscribers, she said.

“We meet our customers in multiple ways in multiple platforms,” she said.

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