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Girls Spa Night With A Pricetag

I adore anything spa related and, since I’m both frugal and picky about what I use, I’ve gotten very good at making my own products and doing my own stuff at home with good results.
A friend of mine knew this and so I was thrilled to be invited via Facebook to a spa night at her place. I asked what I could bring and looked forward to the evening.

The day of the party was pretty rough. It was cold and the rain was pouring. I had had a rough day at work and my crazed alcoholic roommate was finally moving out (that’s another story). By the time the evening rolled around all I wanted to do was take a hot bath and maybe cry a little from sheer exhaustion.  But I rallied. I put on upbeat music, drank a lot of coffee, and walked the block to my friend’s place.

When I got there I was greeted by a stranger who handed me a washcloth and a tube of facial cleanser and told me to go and wash my face. Erm ok? She followed me into the bathroom and instructed me to use product after product. I’ve got extremely sensitive skin that’s prone to as severe as second degree rosacea if I’m not careful and so I declined a few of the harsher looking products to her chagrin.

I finally was able to join everyone in the living room and I realized that the pushy product girl was there to host a skincare home party. We weren’t just going to sit around doing face masks and chattering. We were there to buy things.  The pressure to buy was absurd. I do sales for a living and I would never dream of being so pushy. One girl managed to say no and the product pusher actually encouraged the rest of us to help talk her into buying “at least something”.  I bought a jar of moisturizer because I was assured that it was great for sensitive skin and that I’d notice my rosacea clearing up and because I didn’t have the energy to muster my polite spine. It actually made it worse and I realized later that it actually had a lot of irritants.   Now I’m pretty reserved when it comes to party invites because I’d like to feel like I’m wanted for my company instead of my money. 0902-14

About 15 years I hosted a true “spa party” for my friends which consisted of an evening of us “girls” enjoying some finger foods, drinks, and helping each other with updating our make-up.   It was billed as a low key, “have fun” evening together.  One friend asked if she could invite two of her friends to come with her and being a “more is merrier” kind of person, I said, “Yes”.    It turns out her “friends” were two salespeople with a major home party sales company for cosmetics.   The first hint was they arrived far too nicely dressed for my very casual affair and while I was distracted in the kitchen prepping food, I discovered they had set up shop in my living room.   The tension level among my guests was high because it appeared I had invited them under false pretenses to attend a high pressure sales party for make-up.   I had to inform the sales people that they had been invited to come into my house as guests to *my* party and not to sell their products.   They were welcome to stay and enjoy the hospitality but their products needed to be packed up.    Yes, it was an awkward scene because I have no doubt they were told by our mutual “friend” that this was a product sales party.


{ 121 comments… add one }
  • Lex June 23, 2016, 2:37 am

    I would have bailed at the point where a stranger presented me with a face cloth and unfamiliar face wash and instructed me to wash my face. I’m afraid that would have triggered my ‘You don’t tell me what to do’ reflex. Strange people telling me to do things immediately raises my hackles, and since you mention you were only a block away, I’d have found my friend and told her I was uncomfortable with being told to wash my face by a stranger and left. Standing over you at the sink forcing you to try products? I’m afraid I’m not sure I could have prevented my anxiety from taking over at this point.

    It is poor etiquette not to inform someone if there is a sales aspect the party – it’s not polite of a host to put their guests in awkward positions. I’d treat future invites from this ‘friend’ with extreme caution…

    • Queen of Putrescence June 23, 2016, 8:55 am

      I definitely have the “you don’t tell me what to do” attitude! My friends and hubby know that if I’m told I have to do something, the exact opposite will happen. Obviously, if it’s part of my job at work, that is totally different. But I’m the most stubborn person I know and I would have the same reaction as you.

    • Princess Buttercup June 23, 2016, 11:08 am

      Same on the “don’t tell me what to do” bit. I would have asked a bunch of questions along the lines of why should I, and why no proper greeting, just an attack of ordering me around. Then might have washed my face with just water, refused all product.

    • Becca June 23, 2016, 12:56 pm

      Both my parents will tell you that I’m the “you’re not the boss of me” kind of girl as well. Unless you’re my boss, go ahead and try to tell me what to do, I dare you.

      That greeting would have been met with “I think you’re mistaken, I don’t even know you…where’s Friend at?”

    • essie June 24, 2016, 6:55 am

      I would have been offended that someone I thought was a friend would have a complete stranger meet me at her door with the implied message “I’m too cowardly to say this to your face, so I’ll have a stranger tell you: You’re too dirty to come into my house. Go wash your face; this stranger will go with you to make sure you do it properly. When you’re (or your face is, at least) properly clean, THEN you may approach me for a friendly greeting.”

      Geeze Louise! Next time, just tie a bar of soap to my front door!

    • crella June 24, 2016, 11:23 pm

      All those tube facial cleansers, from every brand of make up, make my skin turn red. Finishing powder from two companies also makes me get itchy and red, immediately.

      Too often my saying this will be taken as an excuse, that I’m saying it because I don’t want to buy something. I wanted make up for special occasions when I first got to Japan, and MIL’s friends were selling just about everything. I tried Shiseido, Menard and Pola and I could use none of them. The cream cleansers seemed to be the worst for my skin out of all the products, but the foundations, all heavily scented, also raised havoc. I recognize, and stay away from, a particular scent note common to all the products I can’t use. I have not been able to find out what it is, but if I smell it, a product is out.

      Fast forward about 20 years to a friend of mine starting to sell some German-made makeup. ‘This is all natural! Try it! It can’t hurt!’ She bugged me and bugged me, tried telling me the redness was because I scrubbed too hard, her makeup wouldn’t do that, on and on and on….we were both on the PTA and she was a neighbor so it was really hard to avoid her.

      She showed up at the house, bringing the stuff and volunteering to show me how to use it. I’d had enough, a reaction would be gone in a few hours, it wasn’t long lasting or painful so I decided to just show her, as talking till I was blue in the face wasn’t working. We went in the bathroom (grr) and I squeezed out a blob of the stuff, and lo and behold, That Smell. Sigh. I diluted it as instructed, then put the bubbles on my face. 10-20 seconds in , you could see the redness blooming under the lather. ‘Quick! Wash it off!’ ‘You see, I really can’t use a lot of makeup brands, they just aren’t suited to my skin. I’m not trying anything else’. She understood and finally backed off. She was a nice person otherwise, as long as she wasn’t talking about the makeup, or some prune extract that was supposed to cure all your ills.

      The lady at the Clinique counter at a department store in Kobe didn’t listen when I told her the finishing powder made my face itchy (horribly!) in less than a minute. I even had a note in my file. I tried a new foundation color, decided to buy it and an item for MIL, and as I was getting my wallet she hit me with the powder. ‘Whoa, I have a note in my file that I can’t use that!’ ‘This is the newer one, I think it will be fine’. I brushed off what I could, payed and went downstairs to shop and felt the itching starting, and the skin around my nose started to turn red. I went right back and showed her. I’ve gotten much less hesitant about being forceful when I have to. Some itching is a minor thing in a way, it’s not a life-threatening allergy, but it’s a pain in the butt.

      I really dislike how salespeople will dismiss allergy info as just a customer’s excuse to get out of buying something. The Clinique lady apologized profusely and underlined the ‘no powder’ note in red, and no one’s approached me with a powder puff since.

      I think if I walked into a sales party that I thought was going to be a social evening, I’d excuse myself as soon as possible.

      • NostalgicGal June 26, 2016, 11:59 am

        I did something like this at the perfume counter at Daytons once. Most perfumes go sour on me and the results are truly horrible SMELLING. Giorgio had just come out. The gal sprayed me, on the wrist (I had smelled it first and it seemed not to have grass notes which are the worst offenders). This smelled worse than bug-go-away or weedspray. She was trying not to make a face and said ‘oh give it ten minutes for it to blend with your natural body oils’. So I STOOD RIGHT THERE for the ten minutes. Nobody wants to be near either of us and it’s lunch hour. She’s on commission and nobody wants to be near. After ten minutes she managed tactfully to say ‘I guess that isn’t your scent’ and I went and tried to scrub it off. Four times between there and getting back to work. And it still was a cloud of reek. My wrist was raw. I had to explain it was Giorgio. Yep. Me and Giorgio. At break I managed three more scrubs, raising blood, and eradicating most of it. If I went past that counter again EVER on lunch, I was never accosted again. It got around. (I found only one perfume that worked and only in perfume strength. Cologne strength it went funny too, and at that time ~30 years ago it was $350 an ounce. I scavenged samples…) (I had a roomie, it was HER favorite and it smelled really good on her…)

      • Rebooting June 27, 2016, 9:25 pm

        Oh, the “it’s all natural!” spiel. As though there aren’t plenty of natural things that can do a lot of harm when applied to the skin.

        • Just4Kicks June 28, 2016, 12:14 pm

          Many moons ago, I was a sales girl for Clarins, a kind of a Clinique-type line.
          I am NOT a natural born sales person, I couldn’t bring myself to chase people around, which is what they expected us to do, and that line was very expensive.
          I did not do well there.

          I do remember just the nicest girl, Kelly, who worked at Clinique, and came back from a weekend at the shore with a very bad sunburn, she was blonde and very fair skinned.
          The manager sent her home for three days until her sunburn faded, and while they decided if she still had a job or not.
          I still remember her walking out sobbing.
          How can she extol the awesome Clinique products while looking like a lobster? Sheesh.
          She did keep her job, but after that, she quit about six months later because her reps were “like skin care Nazis”.

        • NostalgicGal June 28, 2016, 1:19 pm


  • lkb June 23, 2016, 3:50 am

    Unfortunately, I don’t have a spine of steel and I probably would have ended up just as the OP did. But I wish we both would have the nerve to say to the hostess, after being greeted in such a way by a total stranger demanding the washing of the face:
    “I’m sorry, I didn’t realize this was a product party. I’ve had a rough day and I’m not prepared to buy anything tonight. Have a good time.”
    And then go home and veg.

    • Queen of Putrescence June 23, 2016, 8:55 am

      Good answer!

  • Shyla June 23, 2016, 4:17 am

    Unfortunately these parties have become so common. I encourage you to develop your polite spine. Decline to wash your face. She is not your mother. Decline to buy (no explanation) or buy one small thing as you did, depending on how you feel about supporting your friend’s hostess gift. And always read the small print. With some of those companies you get signed up for auto-ship. But you are never required to put products on your skin or ingest products.

    • lakey June 23, 2016, 12:14 pm

      “Unfortunately these parties have become so common.”

      This is true, but I’ve never been invited to one where it wasn’t made clear that it was a sales party. At least for the ones where I live they aren’t being sneaky about it. I attend the ones that have products I like, however, I would be more comfortable with them if they weren’t labeled as parties. They are sales pitches, and there is nothing wrong with a sales pitch.

      “But you are never required to put products on your skin or ingest products.”

      Excellent point. A person who has put herself in the position of selling skin care products, should know that with sensitivities and allergies, people should not be pressured to put unknown substances on their faces. The person running this has been lucky that she hasn’t had someone’s face swell up or turn all red and itchy. I’ve seen this happen to people with products that seemed innocuous.

  • mark June 23, 2016, 6:13 am

    I’ve been fortunate to not have been blindsided by something like this before, this seems like a good way to burn through a lot of friends to me. I have been blindsided in other ways before so I do tend to ask questions before agreeing to invites.

    • Eliagh June 27, 2016, 4:22 pm

      I guess some people think that they’re being helpful by inviting pals to a sales party? As in, it’s an extreme version of ‘I like this product, I will recommend it to a friend’. And the sales lady was probably a friend of hers and Host thinks she’s doing everyone a favour. It’s so easy for such ‘helpful’ people to forget that not everyone will see the parting of their cash from their wallets as a good thing. I generally think that if I did not know that it existed, I did not need it before and if I did know it existed I either already own it or do not need it. Some people are more of the mindset that if they didn’t know it existed they should try it once.

    • Goldie June 30, 2016, 11:22 am

      Likewise, my FB friends always specify that their invite is to a sales party when it is. (And I always decline, because I have one last kid in college and cannot spend money on random unplanned stuff.) It happened to my parents though, in their first or second year in America. A fellow immigrant from the same home country invited them to her housewarming. They showed up with a gift only to find out that it was a cookware party. They bought the cookware too! They worked minimum-wage jobs at the time and could not really afford any of that. The hostess did not hesitate to accept the gift (isn’t she nice). This was 20 years ago and I’m shaking my head to this day each time I remember. The unmitigated nerve.

  • Just4Kicks June 23, 2016, 6:30 am

    I worked with a very nice lady years ago, that I was happy with when we were paired off at work.
    We got along great, and work flew by when she was partnered up with me, as we chatted about our kids and husbands and such.
    A few months later, she and her husband were going through a trial separation, and she was possibly facing two kids by herself if they decided to divorce.
    That’s when the “I need to make as much money as possible” started.
    I’m not saying there is anything wrong with that, at all, she was really scared and I didn’t blame her one bit for trying to save up extra cash.
    Here comes the “but”….She started selling home goods in addition to her retail job.
    While I do realize and appreciate her motivation, I have never encountered such a pushy salesperson as she turned into.
    I couldn’t believe it was the same person, I did buy a few things from her at first, but with four kids of our own, didn’t have much money to spare either.
    Our work time chats turned into full on sales pitches about the products she was currently selling.
    “Oh, come on!!! You surely have an extra $40.00 to buy this FABULOUS wine bottle opener!”
    No….I really don’t.
    Then her tactic became “for only $80.00 you too can sell these awesome products, and have your own product parties!!!”
    Thanks, but no. I don’t have eighty bucks to buy in to your company.
    “Well….Ok, then!!! I will FRONT you the buy in money and you can pay me back!!! Really, these great products sell themselves and soon you’ll be rolling in cash!”

    I got into an argument just last night with my husband because my kids and I stopped into the local grocery store last night after our sons baseball game, and there was a couple with two very small kids in a beat up van in the stores parking lot holding up a sign saying they were homeless.
    Though WE don’t have alot of cash to spare, my kids and I decided to buy a ten dollar gift card to the store, and gave it to them when we left to go home.
    My husband was miffed and said they were probably pan handling to buy drugs/alcohol.
    That’s why I got a gift card, instead of handing them the cash, the store will not redeem gift cards for cash.

    • Becca June 23, 2016, 1:01 pm

      You can still sell cash cards like that to others to others 🙁 It’s like folks who sell their foodstamps for cash 🙁

      If someone tried to get you to buy into their MLM another response is “We know all the same people, so we’re competing for the same territory, Ms Pushy Mc Pusherson…” Then watch those wheels in their head start spinning to still keep selling to you because they really are so dialed into trying to find any response to a “no”. But I’m a big grouch where manners spit and sputter a bit at sales tactic times.

      • Just4Kicks June 24, 2016, 6:25 am

        @Becca: thanks for the nice comments! 🙂

        You raise very valid points on both issues, especially the first one about selling/trading the card for cash/drugs/booze.
        The sign they were using said “anything will help for food/formula/diapers”.
        The older girl was eating a piece of plain bread, and drinking out of a dirty plastic cup.
        I really hope they did use the money we (and a few others we saw stop) gave them and fed the kids.
        My heart just hurt for them, I hope they are okay and land on their feet very soon.
        After our grocery run, I promised the kids ice cream on the way home, as they had helped me a lot around our house that day.
        Both of the kids said “Mom, we have snacks at home….throw in the money you were going to buy us ice cream with.” Started me crying again…with was met with a “oh, Jeez Mom!”

        • M2 June 24, 2016, 10:38 am

          @Just4Kicks~Your kids sound wonderful! Tearing up as I read this! ^_^

        • Becca June 24, 2016, 11:33 am

          All the stories of your kiddos make me smile, they’re such good eggs. We all have our general wicked streaks somewhere in there but all that matters is the default setting in our brains is to care about others and think to give to them instead of keeping all our good things to ourselves!

          • Just4Kicks June 28, 2016, 6:48 am

            Thank you both for the nice comments! 🙂

            I can only take so much credit, and they have their crabby days too, I’m truly blessed to have such good kids.
            And….they got their ice cream, they were looking forward to it all day. 🙂

  • Rose June 23, 2016, 6:38 am

    I detest this sort of thing. If you’re wanting me to buy a product, fine, give me a catalogue and let me decide if there’s anything I like. I’d even consider going to a product party, if I was told up front that’s what it was. But inviting someone to a party under false pretenses is just tacky.

    Admin, kudos to you for keeping your cool when those two salespeople attempted to hijack your party; I think I would have been nearly too angry to be polite about it.

    • bern821 June 23, 2016, 1:38 pm

      Admin didn’t mention it – but it’s really her “friend” who asked to invite the two salespeople who should be taken to task! Asking to bring two additional people after being invited was a little rude as well in my opinion, but sounds like that wasn’t an issue for Admin (and her lovely “the more the merrier” attitude). The friend obviously knew that she was bringing sales reps to set up shop in her gracious hostess’s home!

  • ketchup June 23, 2016, 7:21 am

    I’m not from the States (I do love reading the stories and comparing my culture with yours – and understanding neither is wrong, just different sometimes), and these parties are completely alien to me. I’ve never attended one, intentionally and knowingly or otherwise. I just can’t imagine inviting people without telling them it’s a sales party though.

    Yes, I would’ve left. I don’t like strange people touching me, unless in a medical situation. I find it very strange that they would be so aggressive. That hardly seems like a fruitful strategy. I remember having to buy a kitchen. In one of the stores we went to, there was this super aggressive and arrogant salesman (utterly incapable of reading us), and we couldn’t leave fast enough. He did not make that sale.

    However, compared to OP’s story, Jeanne’s tale of entitlement is even more bizarre. Who does that?! Are you still friends (with or without quotation marks)? It would be a deal breaker for me, but I’m picky.

    OP, I hope you find some resolve to further strengthen that polite spine. 😉 Polite spines are wonderful.

    • The Other Elizabeth June 23, 2016, 10:26 am

      Believe me, many of us Americans are just as bemused about these parties as you are! Awk. Ward.

      • ketchup June 23, 2016, 12:54 pm

        Good to know. Maybe it’s a regional thing? Or more a suburban housewifey thing: I don’t know. I only know your country via television. I’ve never been there myself.

        I do regret not having tried to have an adult one with my friends before I emigrated. I’m pretty sure my friends would have been quite open to that suggestion.

        • Ann June 29, 2016, 8:04 am

          Off topic, and definitely under the “stupid question” category, but how do you buy a kitchen? I’m guessing you mean a “stove” or “oven”; to us, “kitchen” is the whole room :).

          • Elizabeth July 1, 2016, 10:54 am

            As an American who moved to Europe- she means buy a kitchen, as in the whole room! It was quite a shock when I got here. The kitchens of many European houses and apartments are a blank tile wile with hookups. You need to get the cabinets, counters, sink, everything yourself.

  • Karen G June 23, 2016, 7:50 am

    Years ago, a friend invited me to what I thought was a makeup party. I was young and I loved make up (still do!) and I thought it would be fun. Imagine my dismay when I walked in and found out it was more of a “trolling for new sales people” party. I stayed because at the time I was too polite to make a scene, but I did let my friend know I was very disappointed that she lied to me. Since then I’ve never attended any kind of sales party.

  • Sharon Johnson June 23, 2016, 8:03 am

    Another sales technique is to ask the reluctant “customer” to just let the salesperson demonstrate their wares “for practice.” Before I left for college a young man came to my door with a line of pots and pans. Apparently a friend (?) had told him I might be interested. I told him I couldn’t afford to buy anything as I was going away to college and wouldn’t be cooking in the dorm. He said he was just starting out and could he please demonstrate the line for practice. Against my better judgment I said okay but again said I wouldn’t be able to buy anything. After a good half hour demo he asked how I would like to pay!! I said I told him I couldn’t buy anything and he got very angry and told me I had just wasted HIS time!! Years later the son of a friend was selling knives. He also said he needed to demo them “for practice.” This time I knew what I was getting into and knew I needed a couple of new knives anyway, and bought them. But it must be in their training to say they need “practice.”

    • Emmy June 23, 2016, 12:36 pm

      I would have told the rude young man that I had graciously given him half and hour of my precious time to practice his spiel and he was the one trying to pull the bait and switch. Then I might have warned my neighbors if he was going door to door.

    • Just4Kicks June 23, 2016, 1:22 pm

      In my early twenties, I responded to an ad for a job.
      It was worded as a secretary position, so I made an appointment for an interview.
      I knew something was up the second I walked in, there were ten other folks, sitting in desks that formed a circle, and on the walls were posters of beautiful island get aways.
      Ok….maybe it’s a secretary for a travel agent….great!!!
      I sit down and began filling out forms, and soon a man breezed in with a briefcase and set it on the desk.
      He collected all our paperwork, and then introduced himself….and showed us the new, awesome and fabulous knives we would be going door to door to sell!!!
      Oh….hell no.
      I decided to be fair, and polite and listen to his speech.
      After a few minutes, it was exactly what I thought it was, and began fiddling with my watch and looking out the window etc.
      He angrily stopped mid-sentence, took my paperwork and resume, flipped them upside down on the desk and barked at me “YOU may leave…..NOW!!!”
      I grabbed my purse and walked out, got about halfway down the hall, and then went back into room.
      He stopped again, REALLY pissed off this time and said “I dismissed you….WHAT DO YOU WANT?!?”
      I walked over to the desk and took everything I had filled out and my resume and shoved them in my purse.
      He said “those are MINE!! Just what in the hell do you think you’re DOING?!?”
      I said “NO, they are not yours, and you’re crazy if you think I’m leaving anything in this room with my personal information on it!!!”
      A few other folks stood up and followed suit, taking back their resumes, and leaving.
      This guy had steam coming out of his ears, and actually tried grabbing some of the papers out of people’s hands!!!

      • ketchup June 24, 2016, 3:41 am

        Wonderfully done.

      • Mojo June 24, 2016, 4:34 am

        Well done you for going back! You scuppered his next move – “See? This FANTASTIC opportunity is only for the FEW and the COMMITED! You can’t all have it! I can take it away from you any time I like”.

        • Just4Kicks June 24, 2016, 6:48 am

          @ketchup and Mojo: Thanks! 🙂
          I had to laugh when I went back in and the other folks jumped up like “Here’s our chance! Make a run for it!”
          We all walked out to our cars together, and all of us were saying “Did that just happen? What a moron!”

      • NostalgicGal June 24, 2016, 11:31 am

        My experience with the $2-3k canister vacuum cleaners. First we had the fellow that came to the house to do the demo for the free steak dinner for two promised if we sat through the demo. He bragged about all the $ he was making and some other vehicle larceny he was getting away with (license plate) because his dad was a cop, and about 2/3 of the way through he realized we weren’t getting into his pitch and he wasn’t going to sell, so he got really po’ed and refused to finish the demo or fork over the premium. We informed him he could go right on, we agreed to the entire demo. He finally gave the certificate and left. We got more flyers offering the vacuum at a discount and finally a demonstrator for 1/4 the price. THEN about two years later I answered an ad for sales and ended up at interview to SELL those vacuums. I found out (they were now $3k) that they were marked up 90%. I told the fellow that I could sell almost anything as long as I believed in the product and I couldn’t get behind this, and I left. Oh, I took my paperwork off the desk too. I wasn’t going to be working for them, they didn’t need to know about me any longer. He just sat there and watched me say ‘Thank you for your time, good afternoon’ and walk.

    • Sarah Jane June 23, 2016, 2:36 pm

      Yes, I think the knife sellers are told to use the term “practice,” and this is why: a church friend’s teenage son got into the knife-selling thing a few years ago and the friend asked if her son could come and “practice” his spiel on us. I was sure to tell her that there was absolutely no money in our budget for new knives and that this would just be a practice run, and she agreed. My husband and I sat there bored to tears for half an hour while this kid demonstrated the knives. When he finally got to the end, he asked which package we would be purchasing. I reminded him gently that we were only there to help him practice, and he got upset and insisted surely we wanted to buy just a few since he had “taken the trouble” to show us, and couldn’t we see this was a great product? We declined and he left in a huff. It was an awkward situation.

      Then again, I probably shouldn’t have been surprised; the kid’s mother once solicited me – at social hour after a church service – to buy a $15 coupon book for her son’s school fundraiser, and when I politely declined, she said in irritation, “Gee, it’s only $15, and it’s for the kids. Loosen up.” That really steamed me. First of all, church services are not a place to hit up fellow parishioners for money! Second of all, our church has 300 members – should I be buying all their kids’ fundraising items? I’d be broke in a month! Some people…

      • JWH June 24, 2016, 12:31 pm

        I don’t understand how these sort of product parties can function. My (admittedly shallow) understanding of it is that back in the day, a hostess would ensure that the a product-sales party was both a commercial occasion and a fun occasion for her friends and neighbors. On top of that, (as I understand it) a good salesperson working for (say) one of the comestic companies would take the time to develop relationships with neighbors, then contact them during the new year (season, whatever) to offer them a demo/party of the new products.

        That’s selling based on relationships.

        This knife/spa thing … it just seems wrong and more likely to drive away customers than bring them in.

      • Michelle Young June 24, 2016, 5:56 pm

        I have a long-standing rule regarding kids’ fundraisers: I will buy if, and ONLY if, the kids, themselves, are the ones doing the sales, AND they have to have their spiel memorized. Read it off a card, and you lose the sale to me.

        I’ve even told them to come back later, after they have their spiel memorized.

        And if they have nothing I actually want, I have bought something I didn’t want, with the intention of giving it away, just to support them. AND I told them exactly that, and why.

        I figure that if I’m going to spend money on the kids, I have the right to impart an important lesson.

        There is only ONE exception to this rule, and that is cookies. If there are cookies for sale, I don’t care who’s selling them, or if they learn a life lesson. COOOOOOOOKIEEEESSSS!

        • NostalgicGal June 26, 2016, 12:11 pm

          Before my diet restrictions got nasty, I was a big soft touch for girl scout cookies, aka like 20 boxes. However I refused to let a parent pass around the folder or buy them off the card table in front of the store. Back when I had to sell them, I had to go door to door, be polite, and SELL my cookies. Plus handle the math and the money. As a first grade brownie I could manage all of this and it was considered part of the experience. A business I frequented, owner was good friend, and had the folder, and I told her, if her daughter came in and sold them to me, I was good for a huge order, but I insisted the girl sell them. We made arrangements and the girl came after school a few days later. I stood there in the office and the 8 year old, shy and bashful, tried her spiel. I then filled out the folder for my order, and asked HER how many boxes and how much did I owe her? She managed the math to add up the boxes (23) and was a little stumped on the math, so I gently showed her how to tackle the problem and let her do the math and tell me. I asked her when my cookies would be here, and she looked it up and told me. I wrote her the check, and later did pick my cookies up at the store. Her mother did thank me, for making her daughter do that. I believed it was part of the experience that was important. Note too, it is a generation later when this happened and I was also a good friend and well known, so it was safe for her daughter to do so. Door to door now days would be dangerous in a lot of areas… sigh. (hubby still needs 15-20 boxes to put in the freezer every year and we do have neighbor girls that can come over and sell us cookies)

        • JWH June 26, 2016, 3:02 pm

          This reminds me of when I was in 8th grade or so, going door to door selling magazines. I had a whole pitch, too, and I’d insert “example” magazines based on what I could see at the door. (A woman with cats all over the place, I mentioned Cat Fancy, for example.” One place with little kids, I mentioned a kids mag. One of the kids then demanded it … loudly. And repeatedly.

          I got the dirtiest look from that parent.

          But he bought the magazine.

    • wren June 23, 2016, 2:56 pm

      I have encountered this. One of my son’s friends called and said he wanted to practice his knife-selling spiel and would I let him practice in front of me and a friend or two. I declined firmly and politely and the kid’s disappointment just about melted me (I was a brand new empty-nester) but I detest the world of home product demonstrations and selling parties.

    • Michelle Young June 24, 2016, 5:48 pm

      “You want to demonstrate for practice? Sure! Just let me dash to work and lock my wallet in the safe there, because I will NOT be buying anything.”

      If they really, truly, want the practice, they’ll be OK with this, right?

      • Hillary June 26, 2016, 2:37 pm

        Our practice in front of wren’s son?

        • Just4Kicks June 29, 2016, 4:34 pm

          This is in response to all who commented on “Girl Scout” cookies.
          If anyone is interested, my daughter and I just tried a new Breyer’ s ice cream which has the coconut “Samoas” cookies crushed up in coconut and fudge ice cream.
          Lord have mercy…..it is SO good! 🙂

    • Brian July 25, 2016, 10:09 pm

      I remember once a vacuum cleaner salesman showed up at my door, and I realized, to my horror, he was an old acquaintance. And he just needed to demonstrate the vacuum, nothing more. He had a quota to fill. Please…

  • JD June 23, 2016, 8:13 am

    This kind of surprise sales party has gotten so common that if I hear the words “spa party” I run the other direction as fast as I can. Like OP, I want to be invited for my company, not my money. What made it really awkward is that for several years, some of my real friends, with whom I socialized on regular occasions, would invite me to sales parties as well. I knew they weren’t just hitting me up for cash; we were truly friends, which made it so hard for me to say no to the invitation. I finally had so many party invitations to home sales parties that my husband stepped up and said to use him as an excuse — to say that he insisted I quit spending money at these parties, although truthfully, he’s never told me how to spend my own money. I gladly used him as my excuse, since my polite spine was not full-grown at that time, and both the invitations and the home sales party fad finally ceased. OP, I’m sorry you had this experience, but at least you learned something from it, so it wasn’t a total loss.

  • L.J. June 23, 2016, 8:17 am

    I sympathize. I’ve gotten burns on my face and neck even from sunscreen labeled as being the mild, children’s version. Reading about you being instructed to use a washcloth and several products made me cringe.

  • Tabitha June 23, 2016, 8:43 am

    It sounds like OP was going through the process of being booked for entry into a jail. Having someone stand beside you and instruct you how to clean yourself as a greeting to a party?

    This would never happen to me because I only have two friends who may invite me to a party. And their first words would be “what would you like to drink?” And if they turned out to have a sales team there, I would wonder what cult got a hold of them and how I could save them.

    I guess I don’t understand the process of having a large circle of friends and/or aquaintances, but I would expect a spa party to be intimate and quite personal. It’s something I do with my 15 year old daughter.

    I would absolutely hold this against someone. Is it really friends who do this? That openly trick people? It sounds like a mean girls scheme. I would let the host know I thought it was something else and leave before my invasive face cleaning got under way. If the host and sales team tried to prevent me, I blame them for any scene that follows.

  • Michelle June 23, 2016, 8:53 am

    Wow. On both stories. OP#1- after the day you had, as soon as a stranger answered the door and told me to wash my face, I would have declined and gone home. Then I would have contacted my friend the next day and explained that I did not appreciate being invited to her home under false pretenses. If it happened again, that friendship would become ice-cold.

    Admin- I can’t believe your friend thought that was ok! Inviting salespeople to party that you were invited to in order to pitch their products- just wow.

    I’ve been invited to several sales parties by neighbors and coworkers but I have always declined. My $10 Wal Mart pizza pan works just as well as a $30 pizza pan from a sales party and I didn’t have to endure a high-pressure sales pitch while faking a cheery attitude.

  • Lerah99 June 23, 2016, 9:36 am

    I swear there is something in the water because many of my friends have become “mom-trepreneurs”.

    LuLaRoe, Partylite, 31, Jamberry, Pure Romance, Pampered Chef, Tupperware, Scentsy, Mary Kay, Avon, Vi, Beachbody, Younique, etc…

    If I bought the very cheapest item at every “party” I’m invited too, I would be broke several times over.

    Luckily all of them have been very upfront about the type of parties they are having. So I’ve never had to deal with the whole bait and switch thing.

    But there just seems to be something crass about leveraging your relationships with friends and family to make a buck.

    It’s one thing to leave a catalog out on your desk so if someone is interested they can order.
    But this whole hard sell of:
    “Hey, it would be really great if you could host a party for me…”
    “Hey, have you considered being a consultant?”
    “Hey if you get 10 people to order things at your party, you’ll get this nice hostess gift!” ”
    “Hey, I really need to make $600 in sales this month and I’m a little short. Any chance you could order a $40 item?”
    “Hey, you don’t have to wear makeup to come. We have this great moisturizer. It will make you look 16 again…”

    I get it. They’ve been told not to stop until they get 3 hard no’s in a row.

    But it’s exhausting to tell friends, people I care about, “no” over and over again.
    And having to do it in the politest way possible because I want to support their ambition, but I just can’t afford to do it financially.

    • Emmy June 23, 2016, 12:19 pm

      I don’t like that kind of pressure, it makes me feel uncomfortable. If I tell somebody ‘no’ one time and they continue to do the hard sell, I will avoid that person. I don’t find it pleasant to be pestered. These companies don’t care if the consultant loses friends or people avoid them – they just hope that some people will say ‘yes’ so they can rake in the dough.

    • Library Diva June 23, 2016, 2:29 pm

      These things are like cults. I can’t count the number of people I know who seem to have had their souls replaced by the catalog for whatever it is they shill. I know one woman who has gotten deep into Beachbody over the past year. She does legitimately look amazing…but it’s become her whole life. I can see her ties to old friends fraying as she bonds with her fellow “coaches” more and more. She has to do “personal development” that tells her that this sort of thing is OK, because she needs to be with people who support her success and avoid naysayers who want to drag her down (and guess which camp someone who says something like, “Look, I’m very happy for you, and I think it’s amazing you’re doing this, but can we please talk about something else” falls into) She used to post about all kinds of things. Now it’s just that.

      The health/weight loss ones seem to be the worst for that. I suppose there’s only so much passion one can muster for candles or nail wraps. But the people who’ve had success with those products just can’t stop blathering on about how “it’s given them a new life.” If the new life is one where it revolves around selling something, they can keep it.

      • Dippy June 24, 2016, 8:16 am

        I recently unfriended someone on FB who’s whole life was that Beachbody stuff. She did lose a ton of weight, but seems to have lost her personality as well.

      • MollyMonster June 24, 2016, 2:38 pm

        I too had to unfriend/unfollow a friend whose entire life has become purvit or something. Glad to hear you are losing weight, don’t need 6 MLM posts about it each day.

      • Eliagh June 27, 2016, 4:42 pm

        A friend of a friend started selling some weight loss product or other and veered between ‘this is amazing, it makes me so fab and you can be too’ and ‘I need to sell x number of kits to make rent this month, help me out’. Seller and her Husband both sold this stuff as their full time job to support themselves and their two kids. My friend could never tell if she was seriously in financial trouble or if it was a really low sales tactic because it seemed after all the bills were taken care of each month she was back to ‘I make so much money, you can too’. Seems they got some maths wrong as well and assumed that because Seller was making a lot of money on it (she started whilst on maternity leave from kid 2) that Husband could quit his real job and sell too and double her money… without realizing that they had the same social circle to sell to.

    • wren June 23, 2016, 2:59 pm

      In my state it used to be Longaberger basket parties. I was getting asked to attend a basket party every six months for a while! I was young and weak in those days and I have the baskets to prove it.

    • RC June 23, 2016, 7:27 pm

      I LOVE LuLaRoe (not a consultant!), but since I practically live in leggings anyway it makes sense. What I can’t stand are the companies (ItWorks and Younique come to mind..) that make their consultants post their fake cheery, trying to sell stuff statuses all the time. Or the really predatory salespeople..

      • Lerah99 June 24, 2016, 10:13 am

        I also love LuLaRoe clothes.
        It makes me happy that they are sized from XXS – XXXL.
        And the leggings are super soft.
        And the Perfect T is so flattering on my rubensesque frame.

        BUT, I was horrified when my friend became a consultant.
        She took out a loan to pay the $6,000.00 for her starting inventory.
        And the consultants don’t get to pick the patterns – only style and size.
        If something is poorly made or sized small – she has to eat the return.
        Which is why most of them say “You can return it within X# days, so long as the tags are on and it’s unworn, for credit or an exchange.”

        Plus, after she paid them the $6,000 for the inventory, she had to wait almost 6 months to get on -boarded. So she was making payments on the loan for 6 months without having any product to sell.

        I love the clothes, but I feel really bad for the consultants.

    • Amanda H. June 23, 2016, 7:51 pm

      This is why my immediate family has taken the approach that they’ll only host a party if it’s something they already buy anyway (so they do Pampered Chef because they like the products, for instance), and the party is really just a “Hey, if you’re interested; I like this stuff and think you might too.” And they make sure they’re at least entertaining and not pressuring people. Since we’re so spread out now, though, it tends to be more of a “Hey, I’m making an order from this company, want anything?” than a real party.

      • Michelle Young June 24, 2016, 6:03 pm

        “Hey, I’m making an order from this company, want anything?”

        Hands-down, my favorite kind of product party.

        • kitap June 25, 2016, 3:45 am

          ***“Hey, I’m making an order from this company, want anything?”

          Hands-down, my favorite kind of product party.***

          I worked with a gal who sold Avon products and it ws great because she did absolutely zero pushing. She always had catalogs for you to look at and would cheerfully order for you but never pushed; she became a seller because she loved the products and wanted to be able to order whenever she wanted.

          This worked to her advantage because people ordered with her because they knew she didn’t care what they ordered, how often or how much they spent.

          • NostalgicGal July 7, 2016, 10:05 pm

            That was the gal in the one office I worked at, where I sold jewelry, one sold Avon, one sold Tupperware. Avon gal, would have the books out and you talked to her if you wanted to order. Never any pressure.

            Two things she got burned on, involved ‘you have to buy something to get something’. Sometimes a large discount on something beautiful (I bought perfume mirrors with glass rod edges, very elegant, for table displays for shows that I did. They had them for five promo cycless, limit one, half price IF you ordered something else, anything else. I found a small ‘harp’ soap for 50c, and ordered that as the ‘anything else’ item. She thanked me as some couldn’t figure this out, when they said with any other merchandise..) one holiday season the Belevedere stuffed deer came out, they were like $15 each. There was a cute tiny wooden/painted Belvedere ornament, you could only get it if you placed an order. She went blue in the face explaining this. You want the ornament you order something. I wanted one, I ordered my standby the harp soap. People returned order blanks with ‘Belvedere’ written across them. Get this, she ASKED them specifically if they wanted the stuffed toy. Yes they wanted Belvedere. The orders came in, she delivered, and they started handing her the toy back. They wanted the ornament. Just the ornament. Out of 17 Belvedere orders, she got 14 handed back. She couldn’t return them and she had to pay for them. AFTER SHE FLAT OUT ASKED EACH ONE IF THEY WANTED THE ‘STUFFED TOY’ and they said yes. I witnessed one of these exchanges. After she spent forever explaining that the ornament could only be gotten with a purchase. She kept selling Avon after that, but. That was very expensive considering what we made at that place, at that time.

  • technobabble June 23, 2016, 9:42 am

    I’ve attended sales parties in the past, but I’ve always known what I was getting into before showing up. The stuff I buy at them has never been stuff I would go out of my way to buy were I not already there and expected to spend money, and I only every buy one thing that costs less than $50, so it’s not like I’m the prime target for these sorts of businesses.

    What I find even more tacky and confusing is the new trend in my generation (mid-20’s to early 30’s) of hosting “online sales parties”, where everything is done in message board format on a Facebook event page, and then “attendants” are able to order online through the salesperson’s personal page with the company. At least during the in-person party the guests might be able to expect some sort of hospitality in the form of food and company, and would have a chance to see the products in person before committing money to them.

    • Princess Buttercup June 23, 2016, 11:23 am

      The fastest way to get a firm no from me about an event is to invite me to an “online party”. I uninvited my self/click no so fast the person sometimes isn’t fully finished adding in all the links and sales pitches!
      I have determined that any future such invites will receive a copy of this link: (for the link weary, it’s the dictionary definition of party, where it says ” a social gathering of invited guests at a private home for conversation, refreshments, entertainment, etc.”). http://www.dictionary.com/browse/party

    • Samantha C June 23, 2016, 6:00 pm

      I like the online parties, myself. I definitely don’t consider them to be a “party” – it’s just a holdover word from the way the business started. At that point, it’s just a catalog, and if I like the product and was going to buy some, why not hold off until I can buy from one of my friends? (and if I don’t like the product and wouldn’t get some anyway, no one in the facebook group has to know I even looked at the listings.) I don’t understand how that’s tacky. There’s even less pressure than there might-or-might-not be at an in-person party.

      • Samantha C June 24, 2016, 7:08 am

        I was trying to think of a good analogy for the wording issue and finally did – they call the online ordering event a “Party” for exactly the same reason I still say that I “tape” a TV show I want to watch. There’s no tape involved, but the word sticks in my memory as the verb for “recording off the TV to watch later”. A “party” is what they call the event where you sell your stuff; it’s just an outdated definition.

        I’m sure the events are still annoying for you, but I hope it’s a little less baffling.

    • Lerah99 June 24, 2016, 10:17 am

      I find the online “parties” to be less pressure than in person.

      I don’t mind browsing through the catalog and looking at all the shiny things and then not buying anything at the online parties.

      In person, I feel like a mooch if I show up, eat the food, look at the catalog, but then don’t buy anything. It feels like more of an obligation to buy and support my friend in person.

      Online I get to window shop to my heart’s content.

    • Library Diva June 24, 2016, 11:13 am

      I actually think these are great. There’s no deception, no social pressure. It’s just another online “thing” to me that I’m free to ignore the same way I do the banner ads for products that don’t interest me. They’re not playing off my desires to socialize and to support and help my friends by trying to sell me something I don’t need. I don’t see it as any different than someone making a post saying something like “I’m looking to sell my old dining room set. PM me if you’re interested.”

  • Christina June 23, 2016, 9:57 am

    I love Pampered Chef products (an in home sales party type for kitchen supplies). My old next door neighbor would have an annual party every January. And she was the best hostess. We all enjoyed her parties, because we knew up front what it was, there was absolutely zero pressure to buy anything, and the Pampered Chef rep was a very nice, UN-pushy acquaintance. Even though it was a sales party, it was genuinely an excuse to get together with friends and have some drinks and delicious food. We were never tricked into coming, or pressed to make a purchase. So, I think sales parties are fine sometimes, if done right, and if your guests know that is what’s happening in advance.

    If my friend had to lie to me, or purposefully not dilvulged the real reason for the gathering, I would have been furious. Five years ago, though, I would have felt on the spot, stayed, and even bought something just to not seem rude. Now, I realize it was them that was rude and I would have said no thank you and left immediately.

    • Laura June 23, 2016, 1:32 pm

      I agree Christina; Pampered Chef is the only company whose parties I will attend. They are actually quite enjoyable, and you learn things you can use at home. And their products are useful, and well made. Love the baking stones!! (And no, I don’t sell it! :))

    • Amanda H. June 23, 2016, 7:53 pm

      That’s the way to do a sales party. Good on your old neighbor for doing it right.

  • Cora June 23, 2016, 10:16 am

    It’s gotten common enough that I pro-actively tell invitees that I am absolutely not going to try and sell them something, just come on over and let’s try makeup samples.

  • Shoegal June 23, 2016, 10:55 am

    I hate sales parties. I usually cave and buy something out of some sort of “obligation” to the hostess like it would be somehow rude not to. A polite spine is a wonderful thing. To just say NO – and offer no explanation – and not feel pressured to offer any more than a simple No. Please wash your face . . . . no. (said quite nicely). Buy this . . . . no. Try this product . . . no. Come to my party and buy some things. . . no.

  • Ashley June 23, 2016, 11:16 am

    I’m thankful at least that whenever I get invited to these sorts of things it’s via Facebook. I remove myself from the invite, and then click the button that stops anyone from inviting me again.

    This is especially true since practically everyone I know is either selling something or is related to someone who is selling something.

    You’re not inviting me to a spa party. You’re inviting me to buy stuff. I’m broke. Go away.

  • Startruck June 23, 2016, 11:18 am

    I’m usually a pretty good sport , but I would bave been a little ticked about not knowing upfront. It makes me laugh sometimes the things us girls do. You never hear of men having a tools sales party or such, and Im pretty sure my hubbys never gone to his buddy’s house only to be ambushed by a surprise beer selling or car parts party. I’ve even heard of girls having sex toy parties lol why don’t we just let people shop on their own time and just hang out with our friends .

    • David June 23, 2016, 12:12 pm

      I was once invited over for beer and pool one night only to find out it was actually an attempted Amway indoctrination, so it does happen …

    • Ernie June 23, 2016, 4:42 pm

      I’ve met a few guys who try to work their social circles to try and sell pyramid-schemey financial services or products. Me and the guys I know tend to be pretty direct to them about that being a violation of friendship/professional boundaries. Often expressed in a less than e-hell approved way.

      • starstruck June 24, 2016, 11:16 am

        Oh good to know we aren’t the only ones! Lol but it is far more rare with guys then women. My husband said its never happened to him or any of his friends.

        • Ernie June 24, 2016, 1:58 pm

          Yeah, it sure is. I’ve only encountered it a few times. But for every one time I do, I think my fiance probably gets 25-30 invites to strange sales quasi-parties.

    • Michelle Young June 24, 2016, 6:09 pm

      Actually, motor oil and air filters – happened to my father.

      • Startruck June 25, 2016, 12:05 pm

        Motor oil and air filters?……lord I hope there was alcohol at that party.

      • yokozbornak June 27, 2016, 1:33 pm

        We held a Christmas party this past year, and when all of our guests were comfortable, we told them it was time for the Amway presentation. Of course, we were just kidding, but it was really funny to see the horror on everyone’s face until we told them we were joking

        • NostalgicGal June 28, 2016, 1:50 pm

          During the time we had the Amway dealership (hubby had gotten recruited and I un-recruited us after six weeks of bleeding money for motivational speakers and no hope of being ‘trained’ for months) and it was still valid; our next door neighbor got into Melaleucia (wellness foods and suppliments) and we were at the curb mailboxes together, talking. He draped an arm around my shoulders and showed me his wallet card (dealer) and “Have you ever heard about Melaleucia?” I draped arm around his shoulders and dug in pocket and flipped out my Amway dealer card “Let me tell you about Amway…?” I countered. He laughed gently and unhooked the arm. He never mentioned it again.

  • lnelson1218 June 23, 2016, 11:29 am

    I have attended several sales parties, but the hostess was someone I knew and the parties were advertised as such. No surprises. (At least I hope, no, no doubt that the sales woman was not sprung on the hostess to much adverting from the hostess before the show) And it seemed that the majority really did have a good time. Most people did buy something. One of the parties I went to because I needed some stuff for my kitchen.

    It is all in the communication

  • Sara June 23, 2016, 11:43 am

    I happily attended a “getting to know you” Bridesmaid party. My sister in laws and I were to meet our new sister in law’s sisters and a few of her friends. I brought a hostess gift and we were welcomed in warmly. I assumed that one of the “friends” I met was to be a bridesmaid. But no – she was a sales consultant for a very pricy skincare line. The hostess (brides sister) had invited her to be there. So there we were, thinking we were going to enjoy wine, cheesecake and company only to be told to wash our faces and get comfortable because we were going to be amazed at the products.

    Some of us had taken effort to wear nice clothes and make up for the evening and we were not about to scrub our faces in front of strangers. We relented by using the products on our hands and making conversation. When the hard sell arrived, my sister in laws and I declined to purchase. (for me it was a matter of principle AND finances – I had to purchase a $200 bridesmaid dress and didn’t have an extra $80 to spend on lotion).

    The bride and her sister purchased. After the consultant left the bride tried to make the rest of us feel guilty for “not being polite” and purchasing something. She complained that SHE spent more than she wanted in order to pick up our slack. Her sisters said very little but they seemed to agree with the bride. Yikes.

    It was a trying night that we endured out of politeness because we had wanted to meet the others. It was a sign of what it would be like to host joint showers and other parties with these ladies – NOT FUN!

  • Emmy June 23, 2016, 12:18 pm

    I like the Mod’s story and her polite spine. It takes a lot of nerve to bring pushy sales ladies to somebody else’s party to push product and she handled it beautifully and gracefully (although I also feel for your friend if she was duped and the saleswomen decided to do this on their own).

    I think since she lived only a block away, I think as soon as the OP found out what the ‘spa day’ was really about, she should have just turned around and walked back home. I also think saying to your friend, “your invitation said a spa party, I was expecting to be relaxing and enjoying the company, not being ushered to the bathroom and having a sales lady push products at me” would be perfectly appropriate and polite. I don’t hate all sales parties, but I think people should be honest in how they are presented. Inviting people to a social event and then it turns out to be a sales party/presentation is a bait and switch.

  • NostalgicGal June 23, 2016, 12:48 pm

    I have issues with borderline psoriasis. If I wash and scrub too hard, my skin reacts, reddens, and flakes. Most soaps, shampoos, fragrances, and makeups I don’t even think about. And my face and scalp are the worst. Most of the time my face is in ‘healing’ and it is a very careful line to get it sorted out. (I use a steroidal cream very sparingly when it gets really bad, as steroids aren’t really good for your skin either, a few days of careful use to get it towards healing again). ANYONE showing up and ordering me to wash my face will definitely get a NO firmly and in their face. If they’re pushy I’m leaving. Period. I do not wear makeup because it causes my face to react rapidly (see turn red and flake). What’s in it? I’d be giving the pushy rep the fourth degree, and yes I can pronounce all those funky weird chemical words and even SPELL them as it’s important to get it across clearly what I can’t be near. If it’s got X in it it’s verboten. Period. You can’t pressure me into buying something I can’t use, eat, or wear.

    As for what the admin noted, that’s even worse. Jeanne has a much more polite spine than I would have had, telling them the products had to get packed up. Did they stay or did they leave after packing it up?

    I got very used to the sales party route, the Longaberger Basket party (I knew of them, I didn’t know how fantastically priced they were) where the rep got po’ed because of the dozen that attended, she got ONE sale for about $110 (one basket) instead of at least $2000 (the cheapest basket was $48-I looked-in the early ’90’s), college dorm Tupperware and Mary-Kay parties (and the incredible pressure of getting more parties booked so the hostess could get the $30 premium–one gal I actually just bought her a set of the corning cookware instead of being strongarmed into hosting a party (my homework load barely had allowed me to attend her party–she was a good friend so I just tossed my month of pizza money at it)) Then there was the great Amway drive that went through where my spouse worked. I ended that one after about six weeks of bleeding cash and paying for the dealership (to be fair they gave you a large box of their merchandise to try, and most of it is pretty good if a bit overpriced. Their vitamins are GREAT).

    Home selling got started in the 19th century through and by women. At times most of the women were at home and could make time to socialize. I have a 1902 Wilson Sock Darner treadle sewing machine, and an advertisement from an 1898 magazine (full page) that you could sell sewing notions and sewing machines to your friends. 50c in sales would get you premiums and the Sock Darner was for $2.00 in sales! It’s a nice little lightweight sewing machine, and would have been a magnificent ‘prize’ to give incentive to rural farm ladies to start selling the stuff… looking at what a good century has wrought…wow.

  • Cat June 23, 2016, 1:25 pm

    I would not have been a happy camper when I learned I had been misled, but I doubt I would have left. I don’t buy things I don’t want. If you feel I must have it, I will be happy to accept it as a gift from you.
    What I do want to know is what happened to Jeanne’s party when the salespeople were told that they were guests and to pack up what they brought to sell. Did they stay or did they go?

  • stacey June 23, 2016, 1:50 pm

    I really dislike any event that is organized with under false pretenses! How, exactly do people think that this is a sustainable dynamic? If you can’t tell people the truth about an event that you’re organizing then you’re probably better off choosing some other way to sell your products or to socialize… (And if someone else tried to hijack my SOCIAL event and make it into a SALES event, I’d be far less kind than Admin, since one can hardly be confused with the other without collusion!)

  • Library Diva June 23, 2016, 2:30 pm

    While both these stories are awful, I’m really stunned by admin’s. Even if the reps thought that admin was hosting a sales party, how is it remotely acceptable to try to co-opt someone else’s sales event?

    • Devin June 24, 2016, 2:37 pm

      This was my thought. If they thought this was a sales ‘party’ were they hoping to upstage the invited sales persons products or steal her business? If they thought this was a girls get together do-it-yourself spa night did they think hijacking it for their products would win friends? Im not sure what went through any of their minds in trying to trick the admin!!
      I once hosted a spa party in my dorm with free products (they were last seasons scents) my mother had sent me from her at home sales job. After the party several friends asked if they could order some products through her because there wasnt a retail store in our area. For some items i see the appeal in the at home parties but only when they are explicited stated as such.

  • LJ Briar June 23, 2016, 3:27 pm

    I empathize. This happened to me once. It felt terrible, and I left the party feeling very uncomfortable toward the host.

  • L June 23, 2016, 4:00 pm

    The worst thing about these multi-level marketing (MLM) schemes isn’t the super-pushy surprise parties to buy overpriced merchandise. It is that the vast majority of the people who agree to become sellers end up losing money. These people, who need extra cash and think that the MLM will be a flexible side job, end up spending more money than they make. There are a very few (maybe Pampered Chef?) that are not pyramid schemes that rely more on recruitment than actual product sales to make money. There is an interesting website called “Pink Truth” that goes into how Mary Kay really works.

    Don’t sign up to become an MLM seller/consultant. If you have to pay a large initial fee/buy an expensive starter package to sell a product, it’s probably an MLM! If any business proposition mentions you getting large chunks of money for recruiting new sellers (your competition), run for the hills! It’s a pyramid scheme!

    • Library Diva June 29, 2016, 11:56 am

      This is why I hate them so much. A lot of posters are saying they see nothing wrong with sales parties, as long as people are upfront about what they are. To me, THIS is what’s wrong with those parties. Sellers are promised the universe at their feet if they’re successful. Then they’re told, if you’re not making money at this, you’re not doing it *quite*right, but we can help! Buy our motivational DVD with secrets of top sellers for only $79.99 and you’ll see a ten-fold return on investment! Still no good? Take our three-week course for only $599.99 and learn directly from a global five-star double-diamond rep! Etc. etc.

      Al-Jazeera did a great piece several years ago on how these companies often prey on people who are not able to work legally in the US. A lot of them really are slimy, and I just don’t really want to support a company whose business is all about exploiting friendships, insecurities and life situations. Maybe most businesses are about that to some extent, but the nature of the MLM’s exploitation just bothers me more, for whatever reason.

      • ThisIsMyName August 1, 2017, 12:37 pm

        There is a documentary about these scams now on Netflix, focused on Herbalife.

  • kingsrings June 23, 2016, 6:32 pm

    I have a couple of friends who like to frequently hold product parties. Mostly Tastefully Simple, which I adore. They’re not at all pushy about these parties and don’t try to hide that they’re product parties, so I don’t mind at all. Sometimes they’ll hold product parties that I’m not interested in and they don’t pressure me into going. What I hate is the product party invites via Facebook! I’ll get private messaged by some on my friends list asking if I’m interested in their whatever product they’re peddling. Or they’ll send me an invite to a party, or worse yet, add me to a product group without asking me first!

  • RC June 23, 2016, 7:33 pm

    I’m wondering if OP #1 was at an Arbonne party? I broke out really bad after using one of the products too (not sure which one, since the consultant had us try a bunch). It was miserable. The reason I ask was because the party setup seemed familiar.

    • Noodle June 25, 2016, 4:43 pm

      Every time someone has used the term “spa party” in my experience it has been Mary Kay.

  • LizaJane June 23, 2016, 10:21 pm

    The 1st problem here is that she wasn’t told in advance it was a sales party. I go to these sometimes, because it IS a great excuse to get together.

    I like products from 31, Pampered Chef and Younique.

    I’ve never been ambushed by finding out a upon arriving that something was a sales party. I might or might not stay, but I have no problem not ordering.

    • Michelle Young June 26, 2016, 2:46 am

      I like Pampered Chef products. In fact, twenty years ago, I became a consultant just to get the starter package. I did my four required shows, and then stopped. Got a great deal on that starter package, and didn’t need or want much more.

      Later on, I hosted a “party” just so I could buy some pots. I put “party” in quotes, because only two people actually came, and I got all the orders from family members.

      “OK, you buy this thing – here’s the money. You buy that thing – here’s the money. You buy this other thing – here’s the money. I have now spent enough money, and had enough separate people placing orders to get the pots! Hooray!” Yes, I paid for my family to place orders for stuff I wanted, just to get the numbers up and earn the hostess rewards. I got a few specific items I wanted, from the orders, and the hostess gift was a set of pots that I just LOVED. And I think my sister actually bought one item for herself.

      The thing is, once you have your Pampered Chef kitchen set up, you don’t need to buy any more stuff, unless you move, or your house burns down, or some burglar steals your pots and pans. Their stuff lasts a long time. Which means they didn’t get so much repeat business from me. I’m all set.

      Still if I ever hear of someone having a Pampered Chef party, I always ask to look at the catalog, because those “twixit” clips keep disappearing. I find them in drawers all over the house.

  • MollyMonster June 24, 2016, 2:51 pm

    Pretty ballsy to hide the true reason for the party under the “spa night” umbrella. I went to a Norwex party last weekend because my friend cooks good food and she has really liked their products. I was the only other person there. Oops. Oh well, I did buy a few things but only because I wanted to, not because I felt pressured. I did get asked if I wanted to hold a party of my own, but got out of that easily. I didn’t mind going in the first place because I knew what I was getting into (though it did last longer than I expected).

    I have a friend who has done Mary Kay, Tupperware, chocolate, some cooking thing, and now she is on some weightloss thing. She wanted to do Lularoe or whatever but couldn’t afford the startup costs. But I’ll bet if she counted up all she spent on startup and inventory, she could have made a lot more in the stock market. Because I would wager she is in the negative. The only sure way to make money on an MLM is to be the inventor of the particular MLM.

    • pktaxwench June 27, 2016, 1:10 am

      I can’t knock Norwex… those Envrocloths work magic on sharpie and crayon on walls!

      But those parties are ones I’ve never seen falsely advertized. Because, how would you disguise cleaning supplies?

  • Garden Gal June 24, 2016, 4:37 pm

    If someone invited me to a party and I was greeted by a stranger telling me to wash my face, I’d find the hostess and tell her that I must have come on the wrong night and that I had no interest in a sales party. And I’d leave. What nerve!

    I had the student-selling-knives thing happen to me about 20 years ago. He told me it was for practice only, but I did end up buying one of the least-expensive knives. I love the knife, and use it nearly every day, but I already had virtually all the other types of knives he was offering and wouldn’t buy any even if I hadn’t since it was supposed to be for practice only.

    Thankfully, I haven’t been asked to attend a sales party in about 40 years. I hosted a Tupperware party once many years ago, and it wasn’t too bad and there wasn’t any pressure to buy. I still have some of that Tupperware!

  • Jenn50 June 24, 2016, 4:40 pm

    My best friend’s wife decided she was going to start selling coffee through an MLM scheme. She pushed me to try a sample and I did. It tasted heinous, and I had terrible abdominal pain and felt completely lousy for the rest of the day. I made a mental note never to drink any again. Then one day he mentioned that he had real concerns and had argued with her over the ethics of her little business because “she isn’t telling people the truth about the coffee.” So I did a little research and found that the products all contain extracts from a ground up mushroom that has “medicinal properties.” Many people report increased health, but many also reported problems with kidneys, liver and stomach. The scary bit for me was that it is known to cause bleeding in the gut in those with clotting disorders, which I have. And she didn’t tell me that the coffee contained this controversial supplement, much less the potential side effects. When my friend confronted his wife about risking my health, she argued that it was my responsibility to check that products I consumed were safe for me. He told her, “You offered her a cup of coffee, and she was supposed to check with you to make sure it wasn’t laced with poison mushrooms? Who could predict that would be an issue??” She still thinks he and I are unreasonable for being upset about it, and I never accept anything to eat or put on my skin from her. She also has a lot of nausea and heart palpitations since she started consuming this product, which she insists are unrelated, even though they’re known side effects. She spends hundreds of dollars on product and traveling to conferences about selling strategies and is convinced that this is her ticket to easy street. I’ve unfollowed her on Facebook because 95% of her posts are about this product. It really is a type of cult.

    • harriet June 25, 2016, 3:48 pm

      This isn’t just rude it’s dangerous! I would never imagine that I was being given adulterated coffee!
      Some of these ‘all natural’ herbal remedies can interfere with prescription medications. Some food allergies can be fatal. Not just nuts either. I have a good friend who is very allergic to citrus in all forms!

    • Michelle Young June 26, 2016, 2:36 am

      I’m glad you weren’t seriously injured by this! And I am glad your friend is understanding.

      This seems to be one of those situations where you just have to remind yourself that when someone shows you their true nature, believe them. You now know you cannot trust her, and that she is delusional, idiotic, or both.

      You don’t have to hold that against her, but continue not to consume anything she offers you. If she complains, just say you’re taking her advice to heart, and taking personal responsibility with your own health and safety.

      Although, I think it would be good if you can convince your friend to go alone with her on her sales, and MAKE SURE that the customers are informed. She can claim personal responsibility all she wants, but she’s really setting herself up to be sued. If she tells people about it, yes, she may lose some sales, but she also clears herself of the possibility of being sued. For that, at least. If she stays mum, or worse, lies about it, it WILL catch up to her, and your friend will get caught in the mess, as well. Whereas, if she states up front that these mushrooms are in the coffee, and that they have medicinal properties, and gives her customers the information about side effects and potential issues, then it truly is up to the customers to take personal responsibility, and she should be safe. And she will find customers, because there are plenty of people who don’t have clotting issues, and who will embrace the medicinal benefits of natural therapy and magic mushrooms. It’s just a matter of finding people who prefer the natural medicines to the pharmaceutical industry.

      Honesty is, for her, the safest policy, and her husband needs to be the one to step up and enforce it, for his own sake, as well as hers. And for the customers (but it seems she’s not concerned about them).

      • NostalgicGal June 28, 2016, 1:54 pm

        That is a lawsuit waiting to happen. Pure plain and simple. Nondisclosure of ingredients especially if somebody has a bad reaction, can be very costly.

        • Library Diva June 29, 2016, 11:41 am

          I agree with NostalgicGal, and furthermore, I don’t think they should wait on the lawsuit to happen. I think they should contact the attorney general in their state about this dangerous product.

          • NostalgicGal July 7, 2016, 10:10 pm

            This. Document everything you can and send it to the State Attorney General.

  • Michelle Young June 24, 2016, 5:40 pm

    I don’t mind product parties IF I am told in advance that it is a product party, and what brand of products will be offered. Some of my favorite gadgets have come from such product parties.

    When I’m going to a product party, I can plan, in advance, how much I can spend (what fits within my budget – nobody, but nobody can make THAT decision for me!). I can also plan to park a bit further away, so that I cannot possibly be blocked in by late-comers, or worse an “accomplice” of the salesperson (Yeah, cool trick, having your friend come late and block everyone in and then refuse to move your car so they can leave until they have all bought what you deem to be sufficient. Maybe all I actually WANT is the two dollar plastic tool, OK?!)

    If you surprise me with a product party, I will feel betrayed and put upon. But invite me to a product party, telling me in advance, and I’ll go, have a good time, and enjoy the shopping experience, without feeling stressed about it, because I knew going in. And if I can’t make the party, I’ll still likely be happy to check out the catalog and place an order, if I actually like the stuff.

    Up front sales don’t bother me. It’s when they sneak attack you that it gets my goat.

  • Nicole June 26, 2016, 12:03 am

    My girlfriends and I from high school still get together at least twice a year, usually for some version of a girl’s night. Last year, I arrived at my friend’s house and had pretty much the same experience as the OP. She’d turned our fun catch-up-and-relax evening into a product pushing. It was pretty obvious that none of the other ladies expected this either and things got… tense.

  • Blake June 26, 2016, 4:39 am

    I have a friend who made an interesting observation about people who use friendships as leverage for either pushy sales tactics or MLM recruitment. He observed that such people are putting a price on friendship, or in other words, showing how much that friendship is really worth.

  • AnaMaria June 26, 2016, 3:11 pm

    These parties can be fun when people know what they are in advance. If you are hosting one, wouldn’t you rather your guest show up with a checkbook and shopping list, rather than ambushing them?

  • Sarah June 26, 2016, 4:07 pm

    RE: The family in the parking lot saying they’re homeless. Instead of giving them a gift card, ask what they need (food, diapers, etc.) and go in to the store, buy it for them and give it to them.

  • Tricia June 27, 2016, 1:04 pm

    This company is hard core. One of my close friends sells for them and it took a few “spa parties” before people caught on and now no one will host one for her.

    Along these lines, recently I was invited to a group lunch with a ton of mutual friends. We’ve been renovating our house for months and I’ve had very little time to socialize. I was excited at the chance to see a lot of friends at once. I drove an hour one way to go to the lunch in an unairconditioned car (that’s another story) in Texas.

    I arrived, briefly greeted everyone and then sat down to study the menu like everyone else. I barely got to talk to the people around me and after we placed our order a friend of mine stood up and began a presentation about a health product. Turns out, most of the people there were on her sales team and they had invited other people (under the pretense of lunch) to their sales meeting. They all pressured me to buy. After an hour of the presentation I slipped out. That didn’t stop the repeated emails and phone calls even though I’ve clearly told them no I’m not interested.

    It’s so disappointing to find out that your “friends” are willing to deceive you, pester you and alienate you all to make a buck.

  • Pinky830 June 27, 2016, 2:52 pm

    I attended a party once where someone did this to the hostess! I have dozens of stories about the rudeness of the members of this particular church. One evening there was an event for the men, and since several ladies’ husbands were going to be away, one of the ladies invited several people over for a girls’ evening. So far so good. Then she let me know that one of the other guests had offered to “do everybody’s colors!” I don’t know why nobody (including me) saw where this was going, but sure enough, this chick turned it into a Mary Kay party. The hostess pulled me aside at church the next day to tell me that she had no idea. I felt really bad for her.

  • Eliagh June 27, 2016, 4:09 pm

    Joke would be on them if I were put in this situation: if a party is within walking distance I tend not to take my whole handbag (and therefore purse) and just stick an emergency fiver in with my phone and keys. I hate carrying stuff around I don’t need. So no pressure buying for me.

    And were I ever confronted with a stranger with a facecloth, I’d probably just get visibly confused, announce that I was clearly at the wrong house and if my ‘friend’ asked why I didn’t show, say I think I got the wrong invite because she suggested a pamper night not a sales party.

    I seriously hate sales parties. I only attend if they’re fundraisers and I’m likely to buy something from the range anyway.

  • iwadasn June 28, 2016, 1:48 pm

    I don’t think there’s anything wrong with sales product parties as long as the host is upfront about what kind of event it is. The bait-and-switch that OP’s “friend” pulled, however, is definitely rude.

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