Thursday, July 21, 2005

Vendor beware

Ever get one of those 'promotions' in the mail, where you apparently have won some fantastic prize, but have to endure a sales pitch in order to get it? We got one yesterday. This scratch ticket arrived in our junk-mail slot (same slot as the bill-mail, and in-law-mail, which is to say the only mail slot) and when we scratched the ticket, it appeared that we may have won the grand prize of $5,000.

That immediately made us suspicious.

So I decide to give them a call and let this drama play out a bit. My wife, having no patience for this kind of sales pitch, informed me that I was on my own. With the rules of the game clearly established, I pressed onward. I called the number on the card.

I could barely hear the woman on the other end of the phone. In fairness, I don't hear very well and that probably accounted for some of it, but it was obvious to me that she was at least trying to wear a headset, and not wearing it well. So to compensate for this, I asked her to repeat just about everything she said. I was going to repeat some of the dialog here for you, but while typing it I realized it would be just as tedious to read as it would be to enter in. Suffice it to say that literally everything she said was followed by "I'm sorry, can you repeat that please?"

God bless that woman, she had the patience of a saint and if she was getting frustrated at all, she never let it show.

So the upshot was that they were an outfit that sold vaccuum cleaners, and they really wanted to come to my home and give me a sales pitch. My reward for enduring such hardship would be to claim my as of yet undetermined prize. However, on reading the fine print on the ticket, I discovered there were 800,000 tickets printed for the promo, and 797,599 of them had the 'junk prize' of a gift certificate. It could be argued that these were the losing tickets in this contest. Oddly enough, there was no serial number to identify the ticket. I explained to them that our condo was being renovated, and one of the things we had done was to remove the carpets. They still thought it would be a good idea to give me the presentation. I explained to them that they would have to do it on the front step, which was outside my home, but it was at least carpeted. This was a real sticking point for them - they really wanted to gain entrance to my house. Please refer back to paragraph two of this entry. But the woman on the phone finally relented and said it would be okay to do the demo on our front porch, if it was in fact carpeted. In fact, they were available to send someone out that night. We scheduled a time and she said they would call back to confirm shortly before the appointment.

So they call back at the appointed time and eventually someone comes to my door, carrying a vaccuum cleaner. I am sitting in a lawn chair, drinking a beer with my dog. My plan was to keep myself entertained in case the presentation went into overtime. (I have a little experience with enduring a sales pitch for a time-share, and was taking precautions.) I explain to him that he would have to do the presentation out here on the step and that he could not go inside my house because we were renovating it. Because I would not let him inside my home, he felt there was no need to continue with the presentation. This was especially true when he learned we had removed our carpets. He gave me my junk-prize, was courteous the whole time, and promptly left. I didn't even get the price of the vaccuum cleaner out of him.

Not five minutes pass, and his boss is on the phone to me, wanting an explanation. This made me laugh. He found it hard to believe that I would sit through the presentation for the prize, with no intent on purchasing a vaccuum. I explained to him that I had already given all of the information to his assistant on the earlier call and was assured that it was no problem. He didn't stay on the phone very long, as there really wasn't much he could do. My wife couldn't believe how calm I was on the phone. She felt it was extremely rude of the man to call back like that and expected me to get upset with him for calling us again. I suppose it was, but I really wasn't bothered by his call. Sure, I wasted his time, but he equally wasted mine. But at least I got to enjoy a cold beer in the evening sun with my dog.

The real irony here is that my wife and I are in fact looking for a quality vaccuum cleaner. I truly was interested in the product that they were selling. You see, with hardwood floors, people tend to put down large area rugs. We are people like that. But here was a company that would only show me the product in my home - I could not go to some neutral place to see the demonstration (yes, I asked for this - we haven't invited friends into our place yet because it is unfinished. Why would I invite in a total stranger?) In short, while I may have been interested in a sales pitch on a good vaccuum cleaner, I did not trust this company enough to make my purchase with them.


Rae said...


Susan Taylor Brown said...

You are the best memory jogger for me. When I was newly barely married the, uh, first time. I got suckered into one of those vaccuum cleaner sales from a door-to-door guy. I felt like such a putz. Then we got our newest dog, a big, nay, HUGE German/Belgian shepherd who weighed in at about 100 pounds. Whenever the sales folk showed up at the door and wouldn't leave I'd open the screen, put him in a protect mode, and then tell them if they could get by him, I'd listen to whatever they had to say.

Luckily no one ever took me up on it. (It was 25 years ago.) Nowadays it would be a big lawsuit.

K.A said...

You have way much more fun than I do. I usually end up feeling sorry for the often junior saleschaps that need to demo X of whatever they're peddling each week (sale or no sale) and actually let them. Never bought anything off 'em though.

Phone sales is more fun. The sleaziest slime on earth.. try to keep them on the horn for as long as possible, or get them to call you back - numerable times if possible. Attack the business model.

I suppose I just think it's a lot fairer if they actually bother sending someone to my place than wardialling a number of people.

Chris Trolitsch said...

Well David, I actually was that poor Sales guy.... If I don't miss my guess I know what model/brand or vaccum that is... High quality and one I am willin to shell out for.. Being on the sales end, you really only need the carpet on the front door, who knows maybe I would have attracted the neighbours and sold multiple units... It is all in the approach, you made the time for my demo and who knows what you would have bought. His tough luck... Reminds me of my MS tale... Grubby looking that Sat as I had no days off prior to then, wanted to spend 2K on some funiture, the snotty sales guy passed me over, the young sales lady (2nd day) made the commision... Don't judge a book by it's cover so to speak... Damn... Should actually blog this stuff... Lenghtly comments ;)

iTripped said... said it best: his loss.

Apparently they already sold a couple units in our complex. But then again, according to the sales guy, someone also won an X-Box from them (that was one of the prizes.)

Given the odds on that actually happening, I'm not taking what he said as gospel.