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Guilt Tripped Into Buying

When I was in college, the student union would have fundraiser about once or twice a month. Usually they would have a table set up outside the cafeteria and would be selling something. One day I was heading into the cafeteria for lunch, and one of the fundraisers asked me, “Hey, wanna buy a samosa?” I hate samosas, so I said, “No thanks.” But they kept hounding me, saying things like, “Are you sure you don’t want one?” “They’re really good!” “They only cost $2!” yadda yadda yadda. I again said, “No thank you, I don’t want any,” and continued into the cafeteria.

A few minutes later, I left the cafeteria to go buy a drink from the pop machine, which happened to be located behind the fundraising table. One of the fundraisers then protested, “Hey, no fair! She has money!” As if having money means I was obligated to buy something I didn’t want. I’d had enough, and spun around and snapped, “I never said I didn’t have money. I said that I didn’t want any.” Nobody from that table bugged me again after that.   0212-10

Assumptions about one’s finances or presumed wealth are best just ignored.  You have no obligation to explain to total strangers why you declined to purchase whatever it is they are selling nor are you obligated to reveal anything about your financial status.  Ignoring them would have been the cruelest response as it deflates any idea that their selling tactics are effective.


Comments on this entry are closed.

  • lkb November 7, 2011, 6:22 am

    Actually, I think the OP did the right thing by making it clear that their techniques were not working. By saying it out loud, the fundraisers got the message and saved a lot of grief for those who came afterward.

  • Mum with 3 kids November 7, 2011, 7:54 am

    I disagree that ignoring them would have been better – they clearly thought OP had said she didn’t have money, and by ignoring them, she would have let them keep their disgust simmering. Rectifying the assumption might have driven the most important fact home: Saying no is more than enough, no one needs to explain why they’re not buying.

  • Aje November 7, 2011, 9:17 am

    Once a foundation called me on the phone. After trying for several minutes to convince me I finally agreed to five dollars. To which the lady replied, ¨How about ten?¨
    To which I said, ¨Now you get nothing.¨and hung up.

    Where did I learn how to deal with that person in that way? Why, on etiquettehell.com. Ah, you are so helpful in my life…

  • Kovitlac November 7, 2011, 9:40 am

    Clearly the OP got her point across, as the hassling stopped. I’d say she did exactly the right thing.

  • Mary November 7, 2011, 9:46 am

    I agree that the OP did the right thing!

  • Chris November 7, 2011, 9:55 am

    In a perfect world, ignoring them would have the best results for all. But, in practice they just shrug it off. The submitter’s response is far more likely to garner useful results as it shoves back in the face of those self-important persons that what they are doing is rude and intolerable.

  • The Elf November 7, 2011, 10:03 am

    What is it about high school and college that brings out this sort of thing? It’s like the students assume I’m just dying to show my school spirit/pay for their trip/buy new equipment for their group and if only I were just aware of the opportunity I’d open up my wallet. I got so fed up with candy sales, bake sales, wrapping paper sales, etc. It was hard selling, too, not just an offer. It was not uncommon for someone to essentially browbeat me if I refused. Not only is it rude, but it’s a bad sales tactic with me. The hard sell makes me even less likely to buy something because I get my back up.

    It extended beyond fundraisers to prosletyzing too. I worked in the student union, which was a common place for street preachers and the like. There was one group who was fond of asking if I wanted to go their Bible group. (For the record, I’m not Christian.) After refusing, they’d tail me down the hallway, extoling the virtues of studying the Bible with them. Really, if I had some interest in Bible study, I wouldn’t select their group after that! It’s a big college – I’d find somewhere else! One time, they blockaded me in the hallway, refusing to let me pass until I agreed to accept their materials and attend a session. I finally had to barrel through them using my backpack as a battering ram just to get to work! I started going in through the back door then, even though it meant walking past the smelly dumpsters.

    Seriously, people, no means no!

  • Elizabeth November 7, 2011, 10:18 am

    I dislike being accosted by Girl Scouts selling over-priced cookies. I don’t buy cookies. Most recently, the Girl Scouts set up a table just inside the door of the local grocery store. When asked if I’d like to buy cookies, I replied, “No, thank you” and continued walking. The child, clearly outraged, turned to an adult and spat quite nastily, ‘SHE didn’t buy any!!’ I turned to face the adult to see how the child’s entitled behavior would be handled and the adult quickly said ‘well maybe not everyone will buy them,’ which was greeted by a cranky stomp of the feet. I hope my Mom, a 40-year type 1 diabetic, was not treated as rudely as I was.

  • Noph November 7, 2011, 10:39 am

    A particularly bothersome client gave my direct contact info to a well known wonderful non profit group’s local chapter. I happen to like the work this organization does and had been including them in my company’s “christmas charity checks” list every December for several years before my direct contact info was given out with out permission. I usually got a nice little form letter back in Jan telling me thank you, gift is tax deduct., etc etc…. Then the phone calls started. Continual, daily phone calls from the same lady asking for donations during our busiest season, explaining she how she had gotten my direct contact information.
    I tried nicely to tell the her I did support their charity every year, but this was a busy time for us, could they please hold off on the daily calls for a while. Still the calls came in daily. After a month of this, I asked why they kept calling, didn’t they get my annual check?
    The solicitor explained this was a special contribution, yada yada yada, please don’t I care about the children they help?!?! I asked what is this special thing about. The response was they were trying to raise funds for their annual circus.
    I asked “oh, circus, do you have tigers and bears and animals?” “OH YES! We have tigers and etc etc” the caller began gushing about their charity circus for children’s live animals. I cut her off with “OH NO!! How terrible!!” Silence on the other end of the line, so I continue “forcing such wild magnificient creatures into a life of performing slavery instead of allowing them to live in nature as god intended goes against my morals! Thank you so much for letting me know about this afront to nature, Mrs. X! I will be sure to take –the organization– off my December donations list this year!! I can’t support animal cruelty, especially if it goes to teach young children it is acceptable to cage a beast for entertainment!”
    She quit calling after that, and no, I did not send them a check the next December. The money I allotted for them went to a well known children’s research hospital instead.
    Fund raisers need to realize that pestering a potential donor will usually backfire, not guilt them into giving.

  • Phoebe161 November 7, 2011, 10:47 am

    I believe the OP did the right thing. Ignoring would work in a perfect world, but, more than likely, the fundraisers would have interpreted being ignored as rudeness on OP’s part. I cannot understand why people deliberately misinterpret “no” as a “maybe” or “I-need-you-to-guilt-me-into-a-yes”.

  • gramma dishes November 7, 2011, 10:50 am

    Aje ~~ We had a similar experience. We used to contribute a certain amount of money to a well known (and I still believe very worthwhile) charity for children. It really was a very generous amount of money for us at the time, but we felt good about supporting this group.

    Then one year they called and said “We know we can we count on you to sponsor a child for $XXX amount of money this year.” I was floored. The amount she named was more than four times what we had ever contributed in the past.

    I was so shocked that I said nothing for a minute, but when I finally got my voice back I responded pretty much the same way you did. “No, I was prepared to give $ZZ amount of money, but since that’s obviously not enough, we’ll be contributing nothing. Please don’t call again.”

    We found another group for children that was delighted to get our $ZZ contribution! We still are contributing to that group now — about 35 years later.

  • Serenity S November 7, 2011, 10:50 am

    Aje, usually the people calling on the phone for an organization seeking donations are doing that as their job not as volunteers. They are instructed to follow a script and upsell exactly like that lady did, and if they don’t they can lose their job. While the lady who called you was rude, it was probably because she needed to keep her job. I understand why you were annoyed though, I just wanted to let you know the lady had to act that way to keep her job as I used to work doing tele-fundraising as well. At least you didn’t scream obscenities into the phone though like some people do, and you have every right to not donate money for any reason. In future you should ask those people to “take me off your call list” in those exact words when they call. If you don’t use those specific words they can keep calling you, unfortunately.

    OP, I think you handled that situation fine. You had no obligation to make a purchase from them, and it was rude of them to point out that you had money when you bought a soda.

  • Erin November 7, 2011, 10:55 am

    I get the feeling that if she’d ignored them they would have felt justified in being so rude to her. They’d convinced themselves that she’d lied about not having money when all she’d told them was that she didn’t want to buy a samosa. Hopefully they learned their lesson.

  • Gracie C. November 7, 2011, 11:05 am

    I think after the OP originally said, “No thank you” she could have ignored them. But I agree with the others that I think it was better for the OP to correct the assumption that just because she had money they were entitled to it.

  • Geekhyena November 7, 2011, 11:09 am

    @ Aje – to be fair, I worked in a call center and once we got someone in for a certain amount, we were supposed to ask them to go up to the next “tier”, just in case. If we didn’t, and a supervisor heard, we got in serious trouble and it could count as a black mark towards getting us fired. While it’s unfortunate that that happened to you, it probably wasn’t the person’s fault. Most people working at call centers are just there to do the job, and it’s a very high-stress environment for often not much pay, and it’s easy to get fired if you aren’t making your “quota”. I worked at a college call center, so they were a bit easier on us, but it was still a hellish job.

  • Wink-n-Smile November 7, 2011, 11:42 am

    “Hey, no fair! She has money!” What is this, kindergarten?

    And what is a samosa, anyway?

  • Hemi Halliwell November 7, 2011, 11:57 am

    Count me in as one who thinks the OP did the right thing correcting their assumption.

    I often encounter fundraisers at the grocery store. I have to tell them no on the way in and on the way out. I understand the need to raise funds and such, but it irritates me when the stake out all the entrances and exits. Being solicited twice within an hour it too much. I think there should be at least 1 entrance/exit with no solicitors!!

  • cat November 7, 2011, 12:30 pm

    Oh, you feel better if you say something, I think. How about, “Yes, I have both money and the good manners not to yell at total strangers about their financial situations.” And then, perhaps, a disdainful look to top it off.

  • Ashley November 7, 2011, 12:53 pm

    I actually think that the OP did just fine in this situation.

  • ellesee November 7, 2011, 1:05 pm

    OP did the right thing by putting them in their place and correcting them. Had she ignored and walked away, they would have probably thought that she was a “stuck up b****” and continued their tactic with other students. Sometimes people take silence as a confirmation that they are right, so I really applaud OP for standing up for herself. Hopefully the student union picked up the hint that their aggressive selling is not working.

  • Nadine November 7, 2011, 1:25 pm

    And then there’s the good old:

    “What part of NO don’t you understand?”

  • Paige November 7, 2011, 1:34 pm

    I have to say that I agree with the OP. I detest being hassled to donate money and if I said no once and then twice that should have been enough for them. To be persistent then comment on my finincial situation at the moment is crossing the line. While I was raised to ignore people’s rude comments the truth is that at times it doesn’t have the effect we want it to. I was born with little tolerance for harrassment and thus I would have done the exact same thing…

  • Ann November 7, 2011, 1:52 pm

    Or, she could have simply donated $2 to her student union, and not taken a samosa. Sometimes it’s okay to be elegant rather than prove a point. 😉

  • LovleAnjel November 7, 2011, 1:53 pm

    @ Geekhyena

    Oog, sorry to hear you had to work that job. Most telephone solicitations come with a script they have to follow. I’ll usually say something along the lines of, I know you have a script, but my answer is no to all of your questions. I will hang up now to save your voice. Have a good day.

    I think it was okay for her to correct them – perhaps they won’t badger people as much.

  • Snowy November 7, 2011, 1:57 pm

    OP was completely and 100% in the right. The people running the table might’ve thought they were being funny–or not–but they were pushy, and calling her out after she bought the soda was just wrong.

    One of the 7-11s in my neighborhood has apparently started a new policy: employees must greet you and then ask you if you want something from the grill as soon as you walk in, and then again when you check out. Bonus points if they get you in between, too. If you say no, they have to point out how cheap it is or highlight the special. Or imply you want something as if they’re reading your mind.

    I fully understand POS sales, but that is just really annoying. I’ve stopped going into that 7-11 as a result. Their attempt to gain business actually lost mine.

  • Jones November 7, 2011, 1:58 pm

    I hate to admit it, but usually when I see a fundraiser of some sorts going on I go out of my way to visit a venue far away from them. I hate being hasseled for money. In high school, I used to buy multiple flavored waters at once and keep them in my locker, just to avoid the unneccessary hassle. Now I am much better about saying NO but if it’s a day I know I feel spineless, or a product I enjoy (even though it’s for some group I don’t support, or don’t really have money that day for the frivolity) I try to sneak into the grocery store behind another group of people, avoiding eye contact…usually works. Sometimes I still have to say No, Thank you.
    What gets me is if it’s a child’s fundraiser (sports team, scouts, etc) the kids will usually take the refusal with grace and go to the next potential customer, but the adults will continue to say “Are you sure? These cookies are fantastic party favors…”

  • Snowy November 7, 2011, 1:59 pm

    Oh, and I disagree with admin. She wasn’t coming up with a justification as to why she didn’t buy one, she was pointing out she didn’t want one, and she did it in a way that was pointed without being mean. She was spot on in my book.

  • sv November 7, 2011, 2:07 pm

    I have learned that the response that always works for me is a firm yet pleasant, ” Not today, thanks. ” You never should feel that you need to justify your finances to anyone.

  • Xtina November 7, 2011, 2:24 pm

    Being silent and not gratifying the offending party with a response of any sort is always a very good option. In this case, though, since the fundraisers (however purposefully) missed the OP’s original comment of “not interested” or incorrectly assumed that she had lied re: her money status, I personally like that the OP didn’t take their comments lying down.

  • Calli Arcale November 7, 2011, 2:35 pm

    Geekhyena — I used to work in a call center too, and I understand the directive to make a second attempt. I still don’t appreciate it. It’s not the telemarketer’s fault that they have a script, but that doesn’t mean I should buy lots of things from them out of concern for their job status. I do not like what their employers ask them to do; I have a blanket policy of not responding to any telephone solicitations, and that message is not merely for the telemarketers. It is for their employers. Their employers will only ask them to do disgraceful things if those disgraceful things are effective. I sympathize with the telemarketers, and am polite. But I’m firm — no means no.

    I also think the OP was right to correct the fundraiser’s misunderstanding. Obnoxious presumptiveness may not be cured by such things, but at least it gets the message across that publicly slandering a person as a cheapskate just because they didn’t give you money is not good behavior. That’s the sort of behavior panhandlers use, not the sort of behavior respectable fundraisers ought to be using.

  • --Lia November 7, 2011, 2:36 pm

    The thing that stands out for me in this is that it was a fundraiser, and they never tried to tell you what they were fundraising for and what good things would be done with the money. If I were in that situation, and if I hated samosas, and if the folks behind the table at given me that sort of pitch, I might have said “No thanks to the samosas, but I’d like to contribute a dollar to the cause.”

    As for upselling whether it’s to contribute to the next tier in a fundraiser for a charity or in a restaurant when I’ve just said I want water and get offered iced tea, I’m completely with Aje. If I’ve come to the counter with the books I want to buy, don’t ask me if I’d like to buy more. If I’ve said I’d like this entree, don’t ask me if I want an appetizer. After I’ve said I’d just like water, don’t suggest iced tea. If you do, and this is becoming more common, I’m likely to say, “you’re right; skip the entree; I’ll have just the appetizer instead.” Or “I was going to buy these 2 hardcovers, but maybe I’ll just get the paperback you suggested instead.” Or “there’s no reason for me to have water with dinner; I’ll just get the iced tea and skip the food.” I realize the employees have been told to upsell, but the management will never get the idea of how much customers hate to be contradicted, how much I hate to have to repeat what I want, if we don’t tell them with our wallets.

  • Enna November 7, 2011, 3:18 pm

    I think in this instance saying something was the right thing to do as it makes it clear that they were wrong to badger and assume. Although in other circusmtances ignoring might be the more effective option, and in other circumstances both just work just as well.

    I always say “no thank you” or “I’m busy” to fundraisers in the street trying to sign people up to direct debits. Yes I appricate they are trying to do a job and if they are polite I say “You cause is good but I already support ABC, can’t do both.” I had one person from one well known charity knock on my door trying to get people to sign up to direct debit. I explained that I only work part time and focus on volunteering at one particular local charity who do the same thing. I said I would consider volunteering. She cottoned onto the fact that I was a “time donator”. She wanted me to sign up for £2 a week, I said I couldn’t really afford that, she said £1 a week I said no. She went after that. If she had listened to me she wouldn’t have wasited her time and would have gone on to the next person.

    That is the trick with sales, if someone is clear they don’t want to buy keep it short and sweet so you can get though more people and be efficent with time. @ Aje, like Geekhyena said people who work in sales do have to “push” but it depends how hard the sales person is expected to “push”. If they were really being pushed to squeeze donors that might not have been an eagar sales rep or an inexpirenced one.

  • David November 7, 2011, 3:46 pm

    I have found that the more someone pushes me to buy/donate the less inclined I am to do so.

    How rude of the fundraisers to make any judgement of the op’s finances or to think they were entitled to any of the OP’s money in the first place.

  • Setsu November 7, 2011, 3:56 pm

    I’ve always done my best to be polite to solicitors, be they in person or on the telephone, but there is always a point where enough is enough..
    I once got a phone call from someone claiming I’d entered information to inquire about college scholarships, which I knew was untrue. I informed the person that they must be mistaken and that either way I wasn’t interested, thank you, and hung the phone up. The woman CALLED ME BACK and screamed at me that I hung the phone up on her and how rude I was and she was just trying to HELP ME get a college education! I was flabbergasted and simply hung the phone up again in silence. She rang back again but I had my Hubby answer and she apparently didn’t rant at his deep and intimidating voice..

  • Psyche November 7, 2011, 4:43 pm

    I once had a guy bother both my father and I with an alleged fundraiser for his son’s soccer team. I say alleged because I’m pretty sure kid’s teams don’t sell real estate as a fundraiser. Fortunately, I guessed his spiel ahead of time and just said no. He screamed at me that I was a miserable person and he hoped I died alone, then stormed off. Somehow, that didn’t weaken my resolve./sarcasm

  • Allie November 7, 2011, 4:49 pm

    Ann, that’s a nice idea, but truthfully, students are, for the most part, already strapped for cash, and most of us are forced to pay student union fees as part of our tuition. I am a graduate student. I have finished paying my tuition, but still have to pay about $800 per semester ($200 per month) for various fees, including student union fees, for which I get very little in return, as I’m only working on my thesis and never on campus. As an example, I am forced to buy student health insurance and a bus pass, neither of which I need, but they won’t let me opt out. I use my bus pass on average about once a semester, which makes for one expensive bus ride ($80). I have a full-time job and need my car for work, so the bus just isn’t an option. I’m also forced to pay a gym fee, but as I’m never on campus, I can’t use that either. And who, pray tell, negotiated all these fabulous extras, which I have to pay for even though I can’t use them? The student union. So I’m sorry, but unless I actually want a samosa, or whatever else it is that they’re selling, I ain’t giving the student union any more of my hard-earned cash than I’m already forced to give.

  • Jennifer November 7, 2011, 6:27 pm

    @Ann I have to disagree with your comment. The OP shouldn’t have to hand her money over to someone rude to be elegant. She wasn’t trying to prove a point, what one does with their money is their business, nobody else’s.

  • Meloni November 7, 2011, 6:55 pm

    I had similar problems with blood drives at the university. Although I’ve tried on numerous occasions to donate, I’m almost always too anemic. Still others who would gladly donate cannot due to medical issues such as previous illnesses that disqualify them. At my university, the fundraisers would often heckle people into either donating or revealing personal medical information as to why they could not. I found this to be incredibly tacky and it reduced what would have been a lovely fundraising gesture into nothing more than a carnival game stint.

  • Yuki November 7, 2011, 8:54 pm

    This is the story of my life in high school, especially charity drive month in february. People think that “a great cause” is a bulletproof excuse to hound everyone in a thirty foot radius to buy whatever confection or whatnot they are peddling. I’ll buy it if it’s something that appeals to me, and I have cash to spare, but otherwise, I’ll just give them a firm “no”. When it comes to aggressive sales people, ignoring them won’t cut it.

  • Tiffany November 8, 2011, 12:28 am

    @Wink-n-Smile, since I can’t see that anyone replied to your question:

    A samosa is a fried pastry, usually stuffed with vegetables, and a lot of spices. I think they’re Indian in origin.

    Also, OP responded quite correctly, to my mind. Just ignoring them probably wouldn’t have taught any sort of lesson. My guess is they would have assumed that she didn’t say anything because she was embarrassed about not donating.

    • admin November 8, 2011, 9:43 am

      Tiffany and others who felt the OP was correct in how she responded the second time to a fundraising pitch,

      It is beyond rude to give an unsolicited etiquette “lesson” to a total stranger. It is not anyone’s job to “teach” people who are not asking or seeking that advice. We are under absolutely no obligation to reveal our financial health to anyone, particularly complete strangers one will unlikely ever see again. The proper response is to ignore repeated begging for money, even guilt manipulative ones, and walk away. If you really feel a response is needed, you look the person in the eye and firmly repeat, “No. Thank you.”

  • GroceryGirl November 8, 2011, 1:31 am

    I was walking into a fancy little high-end grocery store with my fiancee a few weeks ago (the only place he can find a particular pumpkin ale that he loves) and there were Boy Scouts outside peddling some sort of something. A parent asked if we were interested, I said “no, thanks” but smiled at the kids. As we walked inside I could hear the parent complaining loudly to another about how people just don’t care about kids, blah, blah, blah. Way to set an example for the kids.

  • The Elf November 8, 2011, 10:07 am

    I hear ya, Grocery Girl.

    I’ve got some issues with the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, but in my mind the good outweighs the bad and I like to support them. But I’ve been trying to establish some new habits regarding what I eat. I know once I get these habits established, I can work girl scout cookies and kettlecorn back into my life, but I don’t want the temptation while I’m still working on establishing the habits. So I’ve been walking by the popcorn table the Boy Scouts have been setting up outside my grocery store for the past few weeks. I always refuse politely, and so far I haven’t heard rude responses. If they were selling something else, I’d probably buy. I bought mulch the last time they came around to the door. But sugar-drizzled popcorn popped in oil? Don’t tempt me! I have air-popped popcorn and parmesan cheese waiting for me at home. It’s not because I hate kids, or the Boy Scouts. It is that they are selling percisely the wrong thing! Please consider that before assuming that the refuser “hates kids”, unsupportive, or uncharitable.

    Wink-n-Smile, samosas are as Tiffany describes – vegetable filled fried pastries. I’ve also had versions with meat, but those are less common. Typically Indian in origin, but I’ve had similar pastries from the horn of Africa, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia. I think they are very tasty, but I can see how some would dislike them. They use the Indian spice palate – curry, tumeric, cumin, etc – which some people really don’t like. My husband is among them, so I tend to indulge in Indian food when it is just me alone. I probably would have dove into those samosas!

  • Wink-n-Smile November 8, 2011, 10:57 am

    Tiffany – thanks for the answer. Yeah, sounds like I wouldn’t want to buy one, either.

  • Wink-n-Smile November 8, 2011, 11:01 am

    I have a long-standing personal tradition when it comes to fund-raisers:

    If someone has gone to the trouble to actually memorize the spiel, and comes up to me and tells me the spiel, in person, I’ll buy something that I can afford. If they haven’t gone to the trouble to memorize the spiel, then they don’t deserve my business. Sometimes, I’ll tell them to come back when they have memorized their spiel, but usually, I just say “No, thank you, but good luck.”

    If it’s one of those fundraisers where the parents take the catalog and an order form to work, I don’t generally buy anything, unless I actually do actively want what they’re selling. Like those yummy frozen cookies. But generally not.

  • Wink-n-Smile November 8, 2011, 11:06 am

    Meloni – I also cannot donate blood. There are many medical reasons why a person cannot donate blood. No one in my family is currently able to donate blood. Well, we can donate all we want, but if the American Red Cross says they won’t take it, then what’s a person to do?

    I encourage others to donate blood, if they can, to sort of make up for the fact that I can’t.

    As for aggressive recruitment tactics, you don’t have to give personal medical information. You can simply say, “I’d just be wasting your time and resources. I don’t qualify to donate.” No specifics needed. If they pry, you can give them the stink-eye and say, “HIPPA.” That should be enough to stop any medical personnel in their tracks. If it doesn’t, contact their manager.

  • Library Diva November 8, 2011, 11:53 am

    I don’t think the OP was necessarily correct, but I do think she was sort of justified. If her student union is anything like mine was, going there during lunch is like running a gauntlet of people who want you to sign their petitions, buy their buttons, take their free condoms, etc. My college was fortunately pretty laid back, and most of the people doing the tabling understood the meaning of the word “no,” and generally weren’t forward enough to heckle everyone who walked by anyway.

    But if OP has to deal with this sort of aggressive sales tactics several times a month, to the point where she’s made to feel as if she can’t even buy a drink, I can see why she just snapped.

  • Gracie C. November 8, 2011, 4:20 pm

    Admin – while I agree that “it is beyond rude to give an unsolicited etiquette “lesson” to a total stranger”, I don’t think that’s what the OP did. I think the OP corrected a false impression/assumption (the impression that she had declined to donate for a lack of funds). While, I don’t think she was obligated to do so, and while she shouldn’t have “snapped” the information, I don’t think it was wrong for her to correct the assumption, even though she was under no obligation to do so. If the side benefit of that is that a person learns to not make assumptions, well, that’s just that, a side benefit.

  • Emmers November 8, 2011, 8:33 pm

    This one is a story from my boyfriend, which happened a few years ago when he was around 22 and had lost his job.

    The local fire department apparently calls around regularly for donations in the city, and Boyfriend had been the unfortunate recipient of one of the worst calls to date. The man on the phone, all the callers are apparently actual fire fighters mind you, requested him to donate something like $50 and made it a statement (“You will be donating X amount”) rather then a requests. To which Boyfriend apologized and said no thank you. The man became more and more belligerent and pushing Boyfriend to donate, to which he kept apologizing for and saying No. When the fire fighter finally snapped and said “What you can’t give us $10 to save your life?!”, Boyfriend responded back “I am 22 and I have no job. NO I don’t have $10!” and the man hung up on him.

    A few weeks back we where leaving the local Wal-Mart and a group of Boy Scouts had been waiting outside both doors. As we left I had been looking down at the receipt, and looked up before crossing into the parking lot and one fo the boys was standing between the poles that are set up around the exits (so people don’t park in front of the door apparently..) and was just kind of being silly and dancing around holding a box of popcorn above his head. I smiled and nodded to him as we passed-when I heard this from his mother (or whomever the adult woman was):

    “She doesn’t have manners because she wasn’t in the scouts”

    I mentioned it to Boyfriend when we got to the car and he was flabbergasted-and rather upset. Wishing I had told him then so he could have said something to the woman (I mean that politely mind you-not in the IMMABEATYOULADY manner).

    Funny enough I was actually in Girl Scouts for years as a child.

    Regardless there are multiple reasons neither of us are interested in anything from the Boy Scouts organization as it is.

  • Marli November 16, 2011, 2:27 pm

    I have been working in some kind of call center once. Some kind of, because we were working from home through a network software. However, I can only agree that you are under a lot of pressure. Half your job there consists into rudely getting completely unprepared people to agree to something they will often regret later, through sweet talking, insisting, the works. The other half consisted in getting insulted myself. It is not a very nice job, but seriously, when you know how call center agents work, you have no real reason to be very respectful.

  • Stitchin November 21, 2011, 4:47 am

    I don’t think the OP did anything incorrect in her response; she wasn’t giving a lesson of any kind, she was correcting both a misstatement and an assumption. She *didn’t* say she had no money (as one of the fundraisers seemed to believe), she had said, “No, thank you, I don’t want any,” and she repeated that that was what she had said. She had, in fact, been both civil and factually correct throughout the entire interaction (even if she was getting a little fed up with it by the end [despite not eating any samosas]).

    Ann, I disagree; I don’t think OP’s donating $2 to her student union and not taking a samosa would have been “an elegant solution”. It might have been one for you (if you were so moved); or it might have been one for the OP, if it had been for a cause in which she believed and for which she could spare the $2; but in this instance, OP had stated, clearly, concisely, politely and repeatedly, that she wasn’t interested. She communicated with complete clarity AND with respect, and corrected a misstatement which she was alleged to have made.

    If more people were able to express themselves so clearly, yet politely, then we’d all have fewer Etiquette Hell horror stories.