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 }

Laura November 8, 2012 at 12:53 pm

When we first moved into our neighborhood it was in “transition” and there were many break ins. We had several folks knock on our door at various times during the day/night trying to sell us a security system. Fortunately the Hubs works from home and each time he’d answer the door, keep our 150 lb dog from mauling the person and decline their offers.

Turns out they weren’t reps from an alarm company but burglars casing our house. Eventually they were caught by the neighborhood watch and fortunately for us they never hit our place. Guess they never figured out when we or the pooch weren’t home.

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Psyche November 8, 2012 at 1:07 pm

I’ve learned from experience that the best way to deal with salespeople is that if you start getting the spiel, simply stop them with a curt no. It’s rude, but effective. I learned this tactic after I got bullied by a woman selling hand products at a mall kiosk. After smearing the hand goop she was selling on my hand, she tried to talk me into a 29.99 spa kit. It works with the local homeless quite well too!

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Lisa November 8, 2012 at 1:13 pm

“Oh, good grief. How many burglars knock and wait at a front door? Unless the OP lives in a hugely crime-ridden neighbourhood, this is *incredibly* unlikely and she does not have a security problem because she answers her front door. Please don’t try to make people paranoid. I say this after living in very rough parts of London as well.”

“Push-in” assaults are very common. A person answers the door and the intruder then pushes his way into the house. It’s not paranoia, just common sense.

OP, you were not rude, but you really shouldn’t have opened the door for the second time!

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Andie November 8, 2012 at 1:17 pm

When I was in college, one of the jobs I held required that I view a video on sales. One of the bits of advice in the video was not to quit until you’d gotten ‘no’ three times–and the first ‘no’ really meant ‘not yet’.

A few years later I was home alone when a guy comes up to the door and asks to do a demo for some product in the bathroom. I told him there was no way I was letting him into the house. He then proceeded to chat and ask me out. When I turned him down, he asked me if I hated men.

Now I’ve got even less time in my day to humor pests. Mostly it’s the people at the kiosks in malls that bother me now, and all they get is a firm ‘no’ and I continue on my way. The way I see it, they’re not friends, neighbors, or well-meaning strangers. They’re approaching me for the express purpose of getting money out of my wallet, so while I’m not mean, I’m not going to go out of my way to gingerly handle their feelings.

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LonelyHound November 8, 2012 at 1:36 pm

My hubby a had similar situation with a security company in our area. He saw the saleman walking up to the door and called out “no thank you.” The guy proceeded to come to the door saying my husband had to listen. Rather frustrated my hubby again said “no thank you.” The guy got rude and told my husband he had to listen to what he had to say. At this point my husband got off the couch (it was a very small house where our couch was right next to the front door), said no, he did not and shut the front door. And, yes, we have a no soliciting sign.

It is not just door to door people that are a problem but telemarketers. I cannot seem to get a owrd in edgewise when they call. Most of the telmarketers that call my phone immediately launch into their spiel, and, right or wrong, I am loathed to interrupt people. It is my nature. So, I listen and then tell them not interested and it seems that before the words are out of my mouth they have launched again to why I cannot not live without their product. I tell the not right now- for some reason I find it in poor taste to hang up on them, right or wrong. When they ask for a better time I ask them to give their home phone numbers and I will call them back at a time more convient for me. That is when they hang up themselves.

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egl November 8, 2012 at 1:36 pm

@Marie
The US also has a do-not-call registry, which mostly works*. But it allows exceptions for charities and companies that you’ve done business with recently. So, while I no longer get overly aggressive cabinet refacing companies** calling me, my cable company still gets to bug me to upgrade to their phone and internet services.

*In theory you can report companies that ignore it. The reality is less than helpful in my experience.
**Him: *Starts sales pitch about cabinets*
Me: I’m not interested. My cabinets look fine.
Him: *Aggressively* Oh, you think so?
Me: Um… Yes. *hangs up quickly*
Since I was the only one of us who could see the things, this approach would actually have been funny if he hadn’t sounded so hostile.

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Laura November 8, 2012 at 1:52 pm

@Bint — I had to laugh at your post…you won’t believe this story. In our neighborhood (which is a fairly nice one), we’ve had a string of burglaries that DID start by the burglar knocking on people’s doors! If someone was home, they would ask a lame question about directions, then move on. On October 1st, they knocked on a neighbor’s door, asked her a question, then moved on. Luckily she kept an eye on where they went next. They made her suspicious, so she called the police, who apprehended them a short while later with a car full of OUR possessions! Yes, they did in fact rob our house after literally knocking on our neighbor’s door. We believe had she not been home, she would have also been a victim.

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Ann November 8, 2012 at 1:54 pm

hahaha — Cat must be the world’s best neighbour. I love the signs!

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NickiD November 8, 2012 at 2:25 pm

We have a “no soliciting” rule in my complex and we still have people come to my door. Our entry doors are locked and are not supposed to be opened for anyone but residents. However I have had a few people come to my door in the evening is my relaxing time so each time a solicitor comes I report it to the police and to my property manager. The tactics they use are relentless. I have been told…

1. If I didnt let them troubleshoot my cable boxes I would have to pay $150 if anything went wrong.
2. My property manager suggested this alarm system because of the recent break ins. (My complex hasnt had a break in in 2 years)
3. One salesman claimed my husband had said yes to him installing a home phone (Im not married)
4. And a few have asked to speak to “the man of the house” when I have turned them down.

I respect all job choices but those solicitors who use these “cold calling” tactics should have respect for themselves and learn that “NO MEANS NO!”

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Bint November 8, 2012 at 2:27 pm

I am actually quite saddened that some people simply won’t acknowledge their front door if they aren’t expecting someone, or think others shouldn’t. I’m quite often a woman alone at home, but if I followed this I wouldn’t have been there for the person who’d crashed his car, for the man who’d had a neuralgia attack out running, or for the lost teenager pre-mobile phone days. And when I got lost in a rough part of Liverpool one night as a teenager thanks to a wrong address and was petrified, someone opened their front door to me and then *all the neighbours in that street* did until they found the place I was supposed to be staying.

I might shout through the door first to know who it is if it’s some huge drunken bloke (have also had that…lad with a broken ankle and I helped him as well). I’m not that thick. But not even to acknowledge it at all? I just couldn’t do that, and opening my front door has always steered me right too.

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TylerBelle November 8, 2012 at 3:08 pm

We get more of the phone ones around here. My mom will always ask me why do those solicitors speak so fast and unintelligible. And I tell her that I think it’s because (1) they want to get their spiel out before you hang up and (2) probably so to confuse you so you’ll agree to what they want. Those are the ones she and I usually get. I just say right when they get started, “No thank you, I’m hanging up now, have a nice day!” I remember a call once telling me I’d won around a hundred dollars worth of merchandise and all I had to do was send something as $29.99 for shipping and stuff. Gee, wow, lucky me! I’m running to get my checkbook right now! I kicked myself later for not suggesting they simply take off that nearly 30 dollars worth and send me the rest, at least just to hear the response. Doubt they would have gone for it.

The salesman in the story had a lot nerve not only returning, but doing so in the dark. I couldn’t imagine approaching an unknown residence at night unless it was a truly matter of life or death. And I do not think it’s rude letting him in on how his talking to neighbors about you is not appreciated. It should give him a heads up it isn’t good to go tattling to and about people he’s trying to make a sale to.

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Drawberry November 8, 2012 at 3:08 pm

When it comes to someone invading your space, property, or home all politeness is off. This man was initially rude and pushy and could have been blown off as nothing more then a desperate salesman but he crossed the line in returning later at night and announcing “I am back” when you opened the door.

Not only do I find it rude to return to someones home you’ve previously been denied entry to, but I find it beyond inappropriate to do so.

The way the woman responded to you over the phone tells me this is likely a regular business strategy and not at all out of place. Many businesses will go to great lengths in order to con, harass, and bully individuals in outright horrific ways.

I’ve read personal accounts of individuals who had loved ones pass away only to have credit agencies harassing them on the phone telling them that they are now responsible for any debt the deceased had, including threats of calling child protective services! These are vultures who attack individuals during emotionally distressing times and pray off their mental weakness.

Similar can be said for companies such as the one this salesman worked for, they’re willing to accept and condone harassment and bullying as legitimate methods of gaining business.

As someone who runs my own sales (arts and crafts ) I understand that marketing and getting the word out is vital for your business. That said, when I attend a convention to sell my products I do not grab every person who walks by and force them to listen to my sales bit. Aggression does not equal good business sales and when someone says “no thank you” I tell them politely to have a nice day and hope they find what they’re looking for at another booth. I do not harass or bully them or make them listen to what I have to say! They are well within their rights to tell me ‘Sorry not interested’ without me being offended or turning into an angry bully over the matter.

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barbarian November 8, 2012 at 3:09 pm

Like Wendy’s story, a super-pushy guy came to our subdivision to sell magazines. While he was hassling me at my door, the police drove by and told him to get out of our neighborhood ASAP. I’m truly thankful for the neighbor who called the police.

A brand new school opened nearby. It cost millions of dollars to build this state of the art facility. A kid came to the door selling the usual junk claiming they were a new school and did not have as many things as other schools. I said no thanks and asked if his parents let him do this. He took off.

As a pleasant contrast, a lady selling pest control services came by. We needed to sign up for this service somewhere, but I had just come home from work. She nicely asked if I wanted her to come back at a later time that suited me. She got our business and the company does a good job.

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Another Michelle November 8, 2012 at 3:27 pm

I once had a pay TV employee call at my door, at night, go into his spiel and when I said “no, thank you” several times, decided to try lots of different arguments. He was so persistent that even after several “no, thank you, I’m not interested”s, he kept on going!! I ended up closing the door and turning off the light by the front door!! He just didn’t take “No” for an answer!!

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Elizabeth November 8, 2012 at 4:06 pm

I have a ‘No Soliciting’ sign posted, which helps somewhat, however charities and other nonprofit types are legally able to ignore these I believe.

It is quite simple: I don’t answer the door to people I do not know or recognize. I don’t feel obligated to answer the knock of an univited salesperson. Just because this person has knocked on my door doesn’t mean I’m obligated to answer, engage in conversation, and explain my disinterest. He/she isn’t owed my attention and I don’t feel any obligation to interupt what I’m doing. Rather, the salesperson moves on.

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The Elf November 8, 2012 at 4:09 pm

I’m “rude” in that I interrupt the sales pitch. But I try to keep my words polite and say “Sorry, I’m not interested.” or “No, thank you.” If the salesman continues, I may so “No” once more, but it will be as I am shutting the door.

IMHO, they are rude for coming to my house uninvited to shill a product. While rudeness should not begat rudeness, it does make me feel less guilty about being slightly rude in return. I understand that the people doing the job are just trying to make a buck and usually don’t have a whole lot of other options at that time, but it’s still a rude practice. I feel the same way about charity solicitors and missionaries too. Don’t come to my door.

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Yet Another Laura November 8, 2012 at 4:10 pm

I’d think that salespeople would prefer to call on customers who might actually buy their product rather than waste their time on people who already told them no.

You did the right thing in calling to complain. Another thing you might do is inform them that you’ll never buy from them under any circumstances and you’ll spread the word given how they treated you.

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The Elf November 8, 2012 at 4:10 pm

Marie, we have a do not call register too. Alas, it does not include charities, political calls, or companies with whom you already have business (even if the call is unrelated to that business). So, I still get a lot of calls.

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Angel November 8, 2012 at 4:15 pm

If I am not expecting a guest to come I never answer the door. Obviously if I look through the keyhole and it’s someone in my immediate family, I will answer the door for them. But strangers? You must be kidding! Sometimes they will leave a calling card. I ignore it. I certainly would not have engaged the salesman a 2nd time. You would think barking dogs would be enough to deter the idiots. Obviously not :)

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Melissa November 8, 2012 at 4:15 pm

I don’t think you were out of line. If I were you I’d call his company and complain about him. Even if you don’t know his name they should know what sales reps they’ve sent to your area that day.

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Goodness November 8, 2012 at 4:34 pm

I have a stock answer to unsolicited sales pitches, whether in person or by phone: “I’m sorry, I *never* buy from uninvited solicitors. Have a good day.” Followed immediately by a firmly shut door. Works like a charm and wastes little of either your time or the sales person’s.

Lolina’s story reminded me of a similar experience: I truly hate having people show up on my doorstep to try & convince me that their religion is superior to mine, so, as I was living in a neighborhood where this happened at least weekly, I came up with a door sign stating that I was perfectly happy with my religion and didn’t want to hear about theirs. It deterred about half of them. One group of three knocked anyway, and admitted that yes, they had seen the sign. “I’m so sorry,” I said, “that you don’t know how to read.” Followed by the firmly shut door. Another time, the woman, when asked if she hadn’t seen the sign, say, “Well yes, but I didn’t think you meant ME…”

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Jess November 8, 2012 at 4:47 pm

Is Australia we have a ‘do not call’ register. It does not stop door to door salespeople and charities are exempt from it BUT it does stop cold calling sales people. If they do anyway you can complain and the company gets a MASSIVE fine. I signed up a little while ago, it has worked so far!

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Sugaryfun November 8, 2012 at 6:08 pm

It’s so infiriating when they won’t take no for an answer or won’t accept that it’s a bad time. I’ve had a few bad experience with door to door salesmen. Once when I was a teenager and my parents were away I had a pay tv salesman get a bit menacing when I repeatedly said no. He didn’t leave until my boyfriend came out and told him to. Older wiser me would just shut the door after the first “no thanks” but at the time I was shy and intimidated by having an adult basically tell me I was stupid and naieve if I didn’t want his product which would “save me money” by costing me money I didn’t have.

We also had a security system sales guy tell us various ways burglars could easily kill our dog. We didn’t buy from him either.

Then there was the phone company guy who launched into his spiel while I was trying to simultaneously comfort two screaming children. I know they need to make sales but I can’t imagine techniques that annoy customers this much are effective.

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Catherine November 8, 2012 at 6:28 pm

This is in reference to the sales person telling the neighbor the LW was rude.

My sister is in a nursing facility because of MS. After my mother died, we recently moved her to a home owned by the same corporation in a state near my aunt and cousin. My cousin checked out several homes in her area and decided on XX after speaking to staff, visiting and being shown the room my sister would move into. Staff very clear that my sister would not have a roommate and we would pay extra for this privilege. We moved my sister to the new and all was well. One week later they told my sister, who has some cognitive disabilities because of the MS that she couldn’t stay in that room, she needed to move to a smaller “single” room or they would move another person in with her. I called the director and said they promised us that specific room before she moved in. And he said “well, they made a mistake”. He told me she could stay there and they would try not to move anyone in. I told him to talk only to me about room changes in the future as it upsets my sister and to give me a heads up if they were moving anyone in. A year goes by and they call my cousin, not me, and tell me they were moving a room mate into my sister’s room that day and putting all her possessions into storage. I called the director, very upset and reminded him that I requested that he call me first and not discuss it with my sister. He basically said there was nothing he could do. No apology. I told him it was unacceptable and was very upset. After we hung up he went to my sister and said I was a very unpleasant person.

I’m very frustrated and considering complaining to the corporation. We are working on getting my sister to a new facility that works with younger people. Don’t know if it’s all worth it.

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Allison November 8, 2012 at 7:30 pm

I just want to add, that you should never EVER tell someone coming round to your house that you do not have a security system. This is how burglars find places to rob. I know its not always the case, but its better to be safe than sorry.

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cathy November 8, 2012 at 8:00 pm

I’m with Elizabeth who posted above – If I don’t know the person at the door, I don’t open it, especially if it’s after 5PM and/or I’m alone. My husband works at night so I’m there alone 5 nights a week. They go away after a few minutes. We have a “no solicitors” sign but they all ignore it.

As for the telemarketers – don’t get me started! I have caller I.D. so I can mostly tell when it’s a telemarketer by the weird area codes and “unknown caller” showing up on the screen. I don’t answer the phone in those cases. If I do pick up I just hang up on them once I realize what they are. Life is way too short to be polite to people making a living that way. Sorry if that sounds harsh, but it’s MY phone and I will dictate who gets to use it.

On a humorous note, a few years ago we were having an epidemic of door-to-door salespeople. We owned a snake at the time. When the umpteenth salesperson came to the door, I asked my son to quickly get Elvis (the snake) out of his enclosure and draped all 5 feet of him around my neck before opening the door. The salespeople sort of jumped back and asked “Is that snake poisonous?” Yeah, I’d really (1) own a venomous snake, and (2) drape it around my neck. But…they got out of there fast and didn’t come back. Heh heh heh. Bummer that Elvis died; he was great to have around in cases like that!

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L November 8, 2012 at 9:16 pm

I love the idea of wearing a snake to the door! Ours is only 3 feet though. Yes, we have a ‘no soliciting’ sign too, but it doesn’t stop anyone from knocking or from finding flyers. I don’t mind answering a question or helping someone out, but a lot of the door to door sales stuff is a little much, especially when I see a van dropping-off a load of children who knock at every house (multiple times!) trying to sell something for a school or activity. I wish the chaperones would teach them to respect people’s houses.

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Kry November 8, 2012 at 11:25 pm

Knowing the ‘3 no’ rule, when someone comes to my dore I just say ‘no no and no’ and close the door. As to tellemarketers, several years ago one rang and asked to speak to the ‘man of the house’ so I handed the phone to him… he was my 8 month old son! The person on the other end spent 15 mins trying to work out what language he was speaking.

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Jenn50 November 8, 2012 at 11:56 pm

In Canada, we have a Do Not Call registry, which is supposed to prevent anyone from calling unless they are a registered charity, a business you’ve done business with in the last year, or a survey company. In theory, it works, but in reality, a) I don’t want solicitation from those people either, and b) it is unenforceable if the call originates outside of Canada. So not only can these scammers call from the USA, China, India, wherever, (and they do!) but because the government publishes this list to telemarketers to tell them not to call, the Canadian branch of the group distributes it to their international counterparts, and now they have a list of phone numbers that they know are not data or fax lines, but instead, real people. Not realizing this, I added our number to the list when it became available. The number of solicitations we received exploded. We went from 1-2 a week, to 4-5 a day. Even though the miracle of Caller ID allows us to never answer these calls, they persist. Asking to be taken off the list is ineffective. Threatening with legal action is ineffective. So nowadays, when I see one of these numbers, I pick up the phone, hold it next to the dog, and let her bark into it. I feel no guilt. These are not innocent people trying to make a living, they are con artists abusing the system to harass our family when they have been told repeatedly that we are not interested, we aren’t sending them any money, and we don’t want to go on the “Free” cruise we’ve “won”.

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Electric Blue November 9, 2012 at 12:52 am

Jess, I’m also an Australian and you can get a “Do not Knock” sticker…check it out http://donotknock.org.au/take-action/get-the-sticker-2/

The stickers are free, I have one…and I love it. I haven’t had a single salesperson since I put it up. By law, any salespersons that ignore the sticker risk their company hefty fines.

Although the sticker can be ignored lawfully by charities and relgious groups.

I got the “do not knock” sticker as I had salespeople from a pay TV company show up every few weeks and they were driving me mad and regardless how many times I said “No” they kept persisting.

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Kate November 9, 2012 at 1:55 am

OP, I think the only rude person here was the salesperson. You were fine.
I don’t get many door-knockers now that I live in an apartment, especially because we can choose not to let them through the security door. However, I did get one recently – one of the other residents must have let her in, so she proceeded to knock at every apartment. Stupidly, I answered the door and got a ten minute spiel about electricity accounts despite me saying “No thank you”, “I’m not interested” and “I am happy with my current provider”.
Then she had the cheek to come back with “Well, I understand. Women don’t often make those decisions. Maybe I should speak to the man of the house.” The door got firmly shut after that one.

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Electric Blue November 9, 2012 at 1:56 am

Pity I can’t spell “religious” – oh dear

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Mer November 9, 2012 at 3:25 am

cathy: I’ve always wondered how fast you and people like you work out the caller and end the phone call. I’ve also worked as telemarketer, and depending on the case we had projects which where cold calls or we would contact current customers about their existing subscriptions. In the latter cases we were for example calling for the customers about upcoming changes in their deal, as they had had fixed period deal and they had not notified the company if they would like to have a new fixed period deal, which had some benefits or just continue with the basic deal. Both decisions will affect what they will pay next year for this essential service. So basically the company asked us to confirm that customer had received the notification and had made the decision instead of not noticing it or forgetting it. Most customers were quite happy about the call as they had forgot to send the response message to the company (and if they did not want new fixed period deal it was as well, we weren’t trying to sell it). But yet there had to be some customers who just every time closed the phone or left it on the table without hearing what company you were calling from. I mean, this is your company trying to make customer service so you don’t end up having deal you did not want (which probably would have resulted to angry calls to customer service :D).

Now I know telemarketers might be annoying (and I hated the job quite a lot even if the place was quite “high end” for telemarketing companies) but sometimes it might be worth to listen at least the name and company of the caller before hitting the red.

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saurus99 November 9, 2012 at 3:58 am

Kry – your story gave me my first laugh today! Wonderful!

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Claire November 9, 2012 at 4:30 am

I simply wanted to add the below. Proud to be British,(sometimes)

http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/sideshow/british-man-sues-telemarketers-wasting-time-225232323.html

Although there is an irony that he was able to sue, because he works in telecommunications giving him the technical knowhow to record the calls….

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Ruby November 9, 2012 at 4:38 am

We had a couple of weeks over Summer where door to door salespeople were showing up five or six nights a week! I live with my parents, I look younger than I am, and I’m normally the person answering the door.

To be honest, we managed to get out of a fair few sales pitches, as people looked me up and down, looked confused, and said “Ah, sorry. You need to be 18 for this”, and left. I’m 21.

My mother answered the door on one of the occasions, after we had been getting a lot of sales, as she’s got a much firmer spine than I do in these matters. She saw somebody we didn’t know, and informed him she wasn’t interested in buying anything. He cheerfully replied that he wasn’t selling anything!

But would she like to donate to his fantastic church? And possibly learn about the good they do?

To my mother’s credit, she didn’t slam the door. Just closed it, locked it, deadbolted it, and went back upstairs.

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Cherry November 9, 2012 at 6:21 am

Reading everyone else’s stories reminded me of another one of my own. Well, my family’s.
We moved to a big city a few years ago with great public transport. As a result, my mum got rid of her car because she wasn’t using it, so she was spending money needlessly on insurance, MOTs and so on.
Telling the insurance company that she didn’t have a car any more felt like a broken record. They clearly thought my mum had gotten a better deal and hadn’t wanted to say it, and since they had my mum’s details on file, they called at least once a fortnight.

One day they rang while my mum was at work but I wasn’t and I picked up. They asked for my mum, and when I said she wasn’t there, they launched into their routine at me! Trying to convince me to give them my mother’s details without her permission. Rather annoyed, I informed the woman at the other end that my mother no longer had a car, as we had informed them repeatedly, and that I was truly interested in knowing how she had our number, as we’d requested it be taken off their lists and we were non directory. Realising this could end badly for her, the woman made her excuses and hung up.

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The Elf November 9, 2012 at 7:58 am

I agree, Bint. I acknowledge the safety issue, but I’m willing to take plenty of other risks in my life so I’d take that one too. Yes, even when I’m home alone at night with nothing but cats for company (and believe me, they’re not stopping any burglars!) I look first, of course, like you. But I do have unexpected guests and my neighbors sometimes drop by too, so answering the door is just natural. Plus I’ve been in a pinch a time or two myself and have needed to knock on doors to ask for something (the last time was when I locked myself out and dropped by my neighbor’s to call my husband and wait somewhere warm). But if I don’t recognize the person, I keep the chain on when I open the door a crack.

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Skittle November 9, 2012 at 8:10 am

I just remembered a story from childhood. My dad was an over-the-road truck driver, supposed to be home for the weekend. Well he decided since he had some time off he was going fishing. He caught a big bucket full of palm sized blue-gill, came home to start cleaning them, and got called out to work. He apologized to my mom, and left. Mom was furious, but she grabbed the 9 inch filet knife and set to work. 20 minutes into it, someone from a religious group knocked on the front door (which we never used). Mom answered the door, knife in hand, blood and fish slime up both arms, “Who the h*ll are you, and what the f**k do you want?!”

The looks on their faces was priceless. That’s been almost 20 years ago, and my mom hasn’t had a single religious solicitation since.

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sillyme November 9, 2012 at 10:17 am

My late father, known for his sense of humor and fair play, would do this: he would listen patiently to the speil, then he would ask all sorts of questions and take up a good teal of time (telemarketers and even customer service reps are measured on average ‘talk time’ per call), and sound very interested. Then, when he’d thoroughly exhausted both the salesperson and his imagination, he’d simply say he was not interested. Granted, he was retired so he had the time to amuse himself this way. I tried this once. It’s oddly satisfying on an evening after the kids are in bed and there’s nothing good on TV.

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Tricia November 9, 2012 at 11:55 am

I am not in any way trying to defend this despicable man’s behaviour, but I would suggest not opening the door at all. I think it might be a generational thing, but I have had to teach my own parents that they do NOT have to answer the phone every time it rings and they do NOT have to open the door every time the doorbell rings.

Unless I am expecting someone to come to my home, I never answer the door – EVER. Whatever someone is selling – alarm systems, vacuum cleaners, books, lawn mowing – I can go online or make a phone call on my own time at my own convenience to obtain that service or product.

I agree with the post that referenced the book “The Gift of Fear”. The fact that this man returned to the house was very scary and should have been taken more seriously. I am glad that the dogs were a source of protection, but I fear that many women without dogs would have opened the door a second time with no guard dogs and her fate might have been different. This salesman was using manipulative and scary tactics to intrude on this woman’s safety.

I had to learn these lessons the hard way. About two years ago I was home on a Sunday afternoon, hanging out with my boyfriend and the doorbell rang. I answered the door (first mistake) and a man proceeded to ask me questions about my security system. I, (being very naive and a new homeowner), answered his questions and told him that I didn’t have a security system but was thinking about getting one. My boyfriend overheard this conversation from the living room and came up behind me and stated to the man in a very domineering voice (that I had never heard before) – “She has a huge dog, a gun and ME – she doesn’t need a security system. Thank you.” And shut the door in the guy’s face. I looked up at him, stunned that he had behaved so rudely to this man. I didn’t have a dog, I didn’t have a gun and he didn’t live with me, so I was totally confused. He said to me, “Don’t you know that is a scam!? They are casing houses to see who has security systems!”.

I didn’t want to believe that something like that could be true – how terrible! But, sure enough a few weeks later my neighbor was robbed. She had also talked to the salesman and had advised him that she didn’t have a security system. They were able to lift fingerprints and use our descriptions to trace the robbery, and other numerous robberies in the area, to the salesman that was at our door.

A second hard lesson I had to learn involves a woman that came to my door around the same time as the security salesman. I hadn’t learned my lesson yet about opening the door to strangers, but I was about to learn it and learn it good. The woman asked me if I needed my lawn mowed. I actually DID need it mowed and wasn’t sure who to call for lawn service, so I was thrilled to have someone there ready to mow it. I asked her if she was mowing it and she pointed to a man standing on the curb and said, “No, my brother will mow it for you”. I said to her, “Oh, great. He’s kinda cute”. (To this day, I don’t know why these words came out of my mouth. I am a natural flirt and have a bubbly type of personality, but it was very foolish of me to say that to a complete stranger. ) I then waved and smiled to the man standing on the curb. He mowed my lawn that day and I paid her and then gave her my number and said to call me the next time they were mowing lawns in the area.

Fast-forward 48 hours later and I have gotten no less than 70 calls from the lawn mower. Apparently, the sister told the guy what I had said about him being attractive and he had taken it upon himself to obtain my phone number and leave me voice message after message asking if I needed my lawn mowed (Ummm, you just mowed it two days ago – really?).

The phone stalking continued for months. I never answered and never returned the calls and hoped they would go away. Finally, I texted the number and said that I had gotten married and moved and would no longer need their services. He finally stopped calling.

Lesson learned – don’t answer the door to a stranger. Ever.

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Politrix November 9, 2012 at 12:04 pm

Bint,
No need to be saddened by people who won’t open their door to strangers. Perhaps we should be saddened instead by the many instances (and I assure you, even one instance is one too many) of the criminals who exploit a person’s compassion to break into their homes and rob them, or do worse.
(I’m actually proud of those people who value their own safety over politeness.)

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Rowan November 9, 2012 at 12:35 pm

@Skittle – this reminds me of something that happened to a guy I knew at university. He was very into heavy metal music, so was always dressed in black with band logo t-shirts, bandanas with skulls on and the like. We had a woman in town who’d go round being aggressively religious at people, even door-knocking round the students houses (which were obviously hotbeds of sin & fornication). She knocked on this guy’s door one afternoon and he opened it giving her the vision of him black-and-skull clad, death metal posters all over the walls, music pounding out of the speakers behind him.

“I see it’s already too late,” she said. And left. He didn’t have to say a word.

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Meegs November 9, 2012 at 12:58 pm

I am completely mystified at the idea of a door-to-door sales person. That kind of thing just does not happen where I live (Northeast USA).

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StephM November 9, 2012 at 1:10 pm

My mom chewed out a window company for repeatedly calling. The first three times, she said no and politely asked to be taken off the calling list. Each person said they would take care of it. On the fourth call, she politely said no and asked to speak to a supervisor. The caller replied, “Our windows are a d*** load better than yours!” and hung up. My mom was so furious that she called the company, got a supervisor to take our number off their list, and ended with, “If every window in my house breaks, I will not be calling you!”

I answer my door whenever someone knocks on it, but we also keep a loaded gun a few feet away. If you don’t want a gun, keep a baseball bat or golf club by the door. Pretend you’re in the middle of a phone call. Install a chain bolt. There are ways to be cautious without being paranoid.

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Jones November 9, 2012 at 1:39 pm

To those who mention religious soliciting: My husband used to keep a stack of handouts for our own church near the door. He’d take the visitors’ tracts if they took his. Also, when we had the drunk or “lost” knock at the door, asking for help, he’d hand them a water bottle with the tract. We didn’t actually have many repeats. It’s been ages now since anyone other than the vacuum salesman has solicited our door…

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Goodness November 9, 2012 at 2:34 pm

The comments on this story make me wish we had a “Like” button! Fabulous!

And The Elf, my cat actually did deter a potential burglar: I had the flu and was ‘sleeping,’ if you want to call it that, in the recliner in the front room. My cat came up to me, meowing loudly, and as soon as I stirred he spun around, went to the curtain to the front entryway, and looked at me expectantly. When I didn’t respond he did it again. And again. So I got up and went to him, and he moved on into the entry and looked expectantly at the front door. I looked through the speakeasy but could see nothing, so I flipped on the porch light.

…And the strange man who’d been crouching at my door straightened up, leaped off the porch and went pounding away up the street!

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Shalamar November 9, 2012 at 4:06 pm

A few years ago, a co-worker was raising money for his daughter’s school by selling frozen pizzas. I signed up for a few of them. He received delivery of them and, for some reason, decided to just drive to everyone’s houses to drop off the pizzas they’d ordered instead of, say, phoning first.

I was alone in the house when my doorbell rang, and because it was dark and I wasn’t expecting anyone, I didn’t answer it. The following day, my co-worker was very peeved, asking “Why didn’t you answer your door? I had to take all of your pizzas home and stick them in my freezer!” I explained my reason, but he just Did.Not.Get.It. He could not understand why a woman wouldn’t answer her door late at night when she was home alone.

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The Elf November 9, 2012 at 4:24 pm

Goodness, what a good kitty! Mine would just hide under the bed, except for the alpha male who might meow loudly (because the stranger wasn’t petting him, as is his due.)

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AnyCuriousGirl November 9, 2012 at 4:57 pm

@Cat

I love your solution for the neighbor! I may have to try that out sometime.

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