Pushy Door-To-Door Salesman

by admin on November 8, 2012

Last night at dinner time (6:15) my doorbell rang, setting off my two dogs as it normally does. I opened the door to a salesman holding material for a well-known company that provides security services. He started talking and I said, over the the barking dogs, “I’m not interested”, and started to close the door. He continued to talk and I again said I wasn’t interested and shut the door. I did not talk to him in an angry or rude voice, just stated my disinterest. A little later I was in my back yard and my next door neighbor asked what I said to the salesman. Apparently when she also voiced her disinterest the salesman said, “Well, you’re a lot more polite than your neighbor there” (indicating my house). I was rather perturbed that a stranger would say something like that to my neighbor and good friend but there wasn’t much I could do about it.

Two hours later the doorbell rang again (setting off the dogs) and low and behold, the salesman returned! I opened the door a crack (I can see through a window in the door who is there) and he said, “I came back.” Mind you, it’s dark, cold, and I’m holding back two big dogs. I said, “So I see. I told you I wasn’t interested.” He said, “But you didn’t let me explain our services…,” and continued to talk. I said, “Sir, I told you I’m not interested. And I don’t appreciate your talking to my neighbor about me.” At that, he looked rather sheepish and started to explain himself. I closed the door again.

Looking back at this, I realize I should have said, “I’m not interested, thank you.” However, how polite should one be to an uninvited salesperson? Frankly, his return later in the evening frightened me somewhat. I found another neighbor to whom he had given his card and called his company to complain. The woman I talked to was flippant and dismissed my fear. All she said was, “Don’t worry. We made our quota in your neighborhood and won’t be back.”

I realize people have to make a living but is one obliged to offer explanations to someone who is clearly not wanted? 1031-12

If you are in the US, the Better Business Bureau and even Google are your friends.  File complaints and negative reviews to your heart’s content.

{ 118 comments… read them below or add one }

Tikal November 9, 2012 at 5:00 pm

@Roslyn—-that reminds me of one of my own experiences! I was maybe seventeen and lived on a little farm with my parents where my brother and I co-owned a small flock of sheep. We got a fair number of people who showed up to ask questions about the sheep, or touristy types who wanted pictures of their kids with our lambs. Anyway, this lady showed up and, as I was working outside at the time, started talking to me about the sheep . . . which she then turned into ‘You know, we’re all sheep of the Lord’. I finally had to go get my mother to send her on her way.

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Library Diva November 9, 2012 at 5:08 pm

@Sillyme, before I wound up taking a job in telemarketing, I had heard stories like that and found them funny. I don’t any longer. I agree that telemarketers are annoying. I was very conscious of the fact that I was bothering people when I had that job. But, it was the way I made my living at the time, in the depths of the recession. I needed the money. I needed the commission. I hold a master’s degree and it was still the best job I could get. Believe it or not, there are still people that buy things over the phone, lots of people. Otherwise, these call rooms wouldn’t exist.

A polite no followed by a swift goodbye and hang-up doesn’t hurt the telemarketers’ feelings and costs you nothing. But while you’re practicing your amateur comedy routines on the phone by deliberately wasting someone’s time, be aware that there is a living, breathing person on the other end, with hopes, dreams, people that love them and bills that they need to pay. You’re not only costing them commission, you’re hurting their numbers and could wind up costing them their job. Telemarketing is pretty ruthless: since there’s very little training involved and since it’s a job that anyone with the ability to speak and read can perform, employers aren’t very invested in their employees and underperformers get shown the door pretty quickly.

The caller didn’t set out to ruin your night, wake up your children, disrupt your dinner, or anything else. They just got your number off a spreadsheet they got at the start of their shift. They’re just trying to make a living. Don’t mess around with them or make them your source of fun. If you’re not interested, just tell them that and hang up so they can talk to someone who is interested.

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cathy November 9, 2012 at 9:14 pm

Skittle – that is hilarious!! :-) I need to try that one sometime.

Mer – I often let calls go to the machine – so sometimes a company will leave a message about whatever and I can check it out at my leisure. The ones I hang up on are non-local area codes and these new “000-000-0000″ non-numbers that are showing up in my caller I.D. Also, many legitimate companies’ names will show up on caller I.D. and I will answer those. However, 90 to 95% of calls are bupkis and I don’t waste my time with them. I realize telemarketers are trying to earn a living, but that doesn’t mean I am obligated to deal with them.

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Ergala November 10, 2012 at 11:44 am

We get a certain vacuum cleaner company around here that solicits. I was spring cleaning our condo and I had my 2 year old in the living room as I was mopping. The doorbell rang, I checked the peephole and it was a gentleman. In our complex I wasn’t too worried about someone showing up during the day. I opened the door and he was holding a basket full of travel sized snacks. He introduced himself but wouldn’t say what company he was with. Now the problem with this is that the property is posted as No Solicitors, Religious OR Sales. I told him I really wasn’t interested. He saw the mop I had in my hand and said he’d be more than happy to come in and help me clean. O_o…….I told him no and that my husband wouldn’t think too kindly on a strange man being in his home helping his wife clean. The guy skidaddled out of there. Found out later what company it was for.

Bint I too open my door. The one time I didn’t because my red alert went off was a blessing. My husband had found a beautiful cat under our car. And when I say beautiful I mean this cat was absolutely gorgeous, didn’t look like a regular house cat. I am extremely allergic to cats so our neighbor took the kitty in for the night until the shelter was open in the morning. It had no collar on, but we figured it would be chipped. My husband was working nights now and so I was home alone until approx. 4:30am every night with our two small children. I had taken my medication for a migraine and went to bed. Around 1:30 am my doorbell rang. I thought I was dreaming. I wasn’t able to walk very well because of the medication and when I finally got to the door (our bed was in the living room due to us getting ready to move. We had moved all our heavy furniture downstairs), I looked through the peephole and it was a man with a baseball hat on. I asked what he wanted and he asked me if I had seen his cat. I told him yes and that a neighbor had it and I would tell the neighbor in the morning he was looking. He proceeded to ask me to come outside and help him look for his cat. At this point I finally got a good look at his face. I told him no and that in the morning I would pass it along. I stumbled back to the living room where our bed was and I saw someone’s feet standing on our back step through the big sliding gas door. Our living room shade came a foot off the ground. They jiggled the handle and then left. My heart was racing and I knew if someone broke in I wouldn’t be able to do much to fight them off. Then I thought I was hallucinating. When my husband got up the next day I told him what had happened and he told me to look up the sex offender registry. Sure enough the guy was on it and he lived up the road. He was convicted for rape and rape against a minor. We called the police and reported it. He did go to my neighbor and get his cat however….and she said he really set off her alarms too.

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Mlerin November 10, 2012 at 11:52 am

We don’t get a lot of solicitors where I live. Mostly we get kids collecting bottles for charity/ school trips.

When I was growing up, we used to get phone calls from collection agencies looking for a woman (“Liz”) who had the same last name as us. We told them that they had the wrong number, and they would leave us alone for about six months before they called back.
This went on for a few years before my mom got a rather belligerent phone call. It was a woman from a collection agency who insisted that this was the phone number left with them. My mom hung up. A few minutes later the company called back, this time a man. He was even more aggressive than the woman, absolutely insisting that this was the correct number. Again, my mom hung up.
Later on that evening, the agency called back, and my dad answered it. It was another man, who insisted that this was the alternative phone number left with them. My dad was quick to point out that they were harassing us, suggested that they got our number from the phone book (or else “Liz” did), before he suggested that they deal with the issue in court.
The phone calls stopped after that.

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Mechanisticka November 10, 2012 at 5:53 pm

I used to work for a telemarketing company the summer before I started college. My boss was always pushy and even required that we used our cellphones to make calls because that way the customer wouldn’t know they were being called by telemarketers. Because each call was recommendation only, I often mentioned the person who recommended them, and every time they said that they weren’t interested or that it was a bad time, I was happy to tell them that it was perfectly fine and that I wished them a nice day before hanging up.

My boss always railed on me for losing a sale, but I’d often get a call from them later (since they now had my cell) and they’d tell me that yes, their friend had recommended them, and they were sorry for being so curt. They’d also mention that they were surprised at how easily I backed off.

It was always fun to tell them that I was just like them and I hated telemarketers too. Not interested means not interested and that was fine.

I’ve always found that being polite and sweet to the customers created a great repertoire and after a while, they would tell me to come on over for a demonstration of the product.

That was actually how I got my current dream job as a columnist for a web blog that I read religiously, because one of my customers recommended ME to the owner, who was his best friend, and told them that I could really help.

I still don’t know if I was the exception to the rule, but sometimes I wonder if telemarketers get annoyed when other telemarketers call them. You’d think they’d understand that other people might have the same reaction.

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Sugaryfun November 10, 2012 at 7:48 pm

While I have had bad experiences with sales people in the past I would never just stop answering the door! I often have friends and family pop in unexpectedly. Recently our new neighbour dropped in and introduced herself. I would have missed out on that if I just ignored knocking when I wasn’t expecting someone. At the very least have a peephole and check who is there! Ditto for answering the phone.

I want to second the post above about not being unnecessarily rude to telemarketers. I have at different times worked in both phone sales and market research and while it may seem funny to you the person on the other end of the phone is just doing their job. It’s not a good job and they probably don’t enjoy it so why make it worse? For sales just say “I’m not interested” and hang up. For survey calls, if you hang up without saying anything they are allowed to call you back on the assumption that the call dropped out accidentally, so you need to actually say you’re not interested. I came to the conclusion after work in market research for a while that people who want to rant at interviewer about how angry they are about being interrupted/called at home etc. are really enjoying themselves getting their righteous indignation on. If they actually minded they’d have hung up straight away.

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Kathryn November 11, 2012 at 12:35 am

My girlfriend had a screaming, teething baby, 2 broken fingers and a load of washing to put on the line. She was in tears when the Jehovah Witness’s rang her doorbell. When she answered the door they introduced themselves and she advised them she wasn’t interested and one of the ladies asked if she was ok and if they could help her. My friend nodded unsure what to do and one of the ladies took the baby and started soothing it and another asked her if my friend would like a cup of tea and asked if her hand was ok and restrapped her fingers while the gentleman seeing the basket full of wet clothes/diapers asked her if she would mind if he hung out the washing. No religious views were shared just help given and when they see my friend in the street they say hello but never door knock her.

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BMW November 11, 2012 at 1:23 pm

That’s a very nice story. =)

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Melalucci November 12, 2012 at 2:06 am

Ergala, I’m sad to hear that scary man got the cat. :( How did anyone even know it was his?

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penguintummy November 12, 2012 at 2:30 am

Kathryn what a lovely story. Nice to see people helping out, rather than taking advantage in the name of religion.

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penguintummy November 12, 2012 at 2:42 am

After having a landline with no actual phone connected for more than a year, we finally got a working phone and plugged it in. Later that night it rang! First call for over a year and it was someone from India selling mobile phones! My bf and I laughed for ages

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Cat Whisperer November 12, 2012 at 2:50 am

The magic words to make telemarketers go away: “Please put me on your DO NOT CALL LIST immediately.”

If you tell them this, and they call you back after you’ve told them, the company they represent can get fined a substantial amount of money. If they represent a legitimate company or organization, I guarantee you that they will leave you alone. But you have to say the magic words: “Put me on your Do Not Call List.”

And you can say this politely but firmly, no need to get nasty or rude. As soon as you realize it’s a telemarketer, interrupt them: “I’m sorry, I’m not interested, please put me on your Do Not Call List.”

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cathy November 12, 2012 at 8:00 pm

Cat Whisperer (love that name) – when I try to tell them that, before the words are even all the way out of my mouth, they hang up! It’s so annoying. In those cases, I report them to Do Not Call.

And to those who open the door, I’m glad you have had good experiences; I haven’t, and maybe it’s just the type of neighborhood we live in.

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Cat Whisperer November 13, 2012 at 12:58 am

@Cathy, I’ve had pretty good luck telling telemarketers to put me on the “do not call list.” I haven’t had any hang up on me (yet), but I have caller ID and if any of them did, I’d call them right back and tell them to put me on the “do not call list.”

General comments about door-to-door salespeople:

First, safety is the paramount consideration. If someone knocks at your door and you have any reason to believe that they may be a danger to you, do not open the door. Tell them through the closed door that you’re calling the police, and then do exactly that. Here in Southern California, we’ve had teams of scammers working together where one would engage the homeowner at the front door while the other went around to try the back door, and if that one could get in, they’d snatch whatever valuables were within easy reach and leave. We’ve also had teams of burglars who use door-to-door solicitation as a cover for break-ins: they knock on the door, and if nobody answers, they go around to the back or side to see if they can get in through a window; if someone comes to the door, they give a sales spiel and then take off to try again somewhere else. So you have to be very careful about people coming to your door.

In our neighborhood, we’ve also had reports of people doing door-to-door solicitation taking advantage of finding packages left by the postal service or UPS or Fed Ex and stealing those packages; also using door-to-door solicitation as a cover for stealing mail out of people’s boxes.

If you notice door-to-door solicitors going through your neighborhood, it can be helpful to note the time, the description of their vehicle and license plate number, and physical description of who they are. If there are break-ins reported, that information might be very useful.

Some cities have a rule in place that companies doing door-to-door solicitation have to register with the city before they do so. You can call your city hall to find out if your city has such a rule; if they do, when someone knocks on your door, you can ask them to produce proof that they have registered as required. If they fail to produce proof, or if they haven’t registered, you can report them and the company they work for can be fined or can have their business license lifted. I’ve found that asking salespeople if they’ve registered as required is pretty effective at getting rid of them. If they haven’t registered, then the odds are they aren’t legitimate. And most of them will clear out of the neighborhood pretty fast if you make it plain you will report them if they haven’t registered.

Personally, I do not care if door-to-door solicitors think I’m a rude, mean, short-tempered person. I do not care if they tell everyone in the neighborhood I’m a 4-wheel drive, brass-plated [expletive for a female dog, rhymes with "witch"]. People going door-to-door represent an honest to god hazard if they go unchallenged, and I’d rather have people thinking that I’m mean, nasty and hating me for being officious than have scammers or worse think that they can come into my neighborhood and operate with impunity. If I want to buy something, I can find it online, or go to a store. I don’t need someone to peddle it to me at my door. And if I want a contractor, or an alarm service provider, or anything else that someone is selling, I’ll find a reputable one and contact them to tell me what they can do for me.

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Doctor Diva November 17, 2012 at 10:52 am

I totally agree with Cat Whisperer, above. If the business is a legitimate new upstart, or even a long-standing one, spend a little postage money and do your promo BY MAIL, where a person can see your DBA, phone number, web address, etc.; and if they are interested in the product or service you’re selling, they can contact you. I have absolutely no need to get up close and personal with some unidentified solicitor coming to my door unannounced, often BANGING on my door and ringing my doorbell like the house is on fire! I truly believe that these people are either not legitimate and are casing the neighborhood to see who’s home and who is not so they can later rob the place; or even worse they have the potential for violence! Well, I give them no quarter! Either I don’t answer the door or I open the inner door ( the outer, storm door is ALWAYS locked) and make them wish they never rang! And I do not hesitate to call the police if necessary. The newspapers are replete with stories about people who have been beaten, robbed, or even worse by individuals masquerading as reps of the local “power company”

As for telemarketers, I just don’t pick up the phone if I don’t recognize the number showing on the caller ID. If one happens to get through, I refer them to the “Do Not Call” list. In fact, I have taken my answering machine off completely and asked my friends to only call my cell phone. Sometimes, that is the price one must pay for total peace!

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Fred Snyder November 24, 2012 at 11:26 pm

If a telemarketer calls me, I say in the first 10 seconds of the call “thank you but I never buy anything over the phone, good bye” or words to that effect. If they choose to keep talking after this, I let them, after putting the phone on mute.

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Brittany January 5, 2013 at 1:08 am

We don’t actually get door to door salesmen where I live now, but random people do knock on our door on a fairly regular basis. Our big sweetheart collie barks her head off, of course, which deters some of them, but occasionally someone will continue to knock even with her having a fit. I’ve found that the quickest, easiest way to deal with these people (after peeking out the window to make sure it’s no one I know and not the police) is to open the door and say, “Sorry, I’m busy right now,” and then shut the door again. Of course, that could be because when I’m home, I’m naked…

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