Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Sales Demo that Sucked

When it comes to door-to-door salespeople, I’m a sucker. I’ve had my windows cleaned by a very ambitious Southern man, bought a magazine subscription from a drunk teenager, and just this week endured a 90-minute vacuum cleaner demonstration. How did I fall for that, you ask? Sit back, relax, and I’ll share.

In retrospect I realize that this was not your average salesman. This was a strategic three-man team designed to reel in prospects with an air freshener and hook them with a ludicrously priced, yet seemingly magical vacuum cleaner. I didn’t stand a chance.

First, they sent in the Headliner, the one charged with finding and securing Suckers. This particular Headliner was a dwarf, although I believe the politically correct term is “little person.” Either way, he blind-sided me, offering me an air freshener for my time and promising not to take too much of it. Before I even realized what was happening, the Headliner was introducing the Demo Guy, and then *poof*, he was gone.

Now I have a 20-year old kid in my livingroom, assembling a new age vacuum cleaner that looks like it might double as a jet-pack. His job is to shame me by sucking the dirt from my livingroom rug and displaying it on round little filters. Within 30 minutes he has collected at least 20 of them and isn’t slowing down. By the time he’s gathered about 45 dirt-encrusted disks he asks me to sit down for his formal demonstration.

I’ll admit. This vacuum cleaner was extraordinary. It had about 20 attachments and could do everything from clean your gutters to unclog your drains. But the only way I would pay $2400 for a vacuum cleaner was if it could turn my $30 throw rug into a magic carpet that would take me and my children to Disneyland. I’m sorry, but there’s not enough carpet in my life to justify a purchase of that magnitude.

But the Demo Guy’s job isn’t to sell the vacuum cleaner, it’s just to demonstrate it. After 60 minutes of being shocked and amazed by this simple household appliance, the Boss Man arrives. His job is to make the hard sell.

First let me say that any man wearing rhinestone-studded jeans shouldn’t expect to sell me anything. But, boy, did he try.

He informed me that him and his team had traveled all the way from Denver, Colorado, to the numbered streets in Idaho Falls to sell me this magical vacuum cleaner. Because apparently there are more suckers in this area code than in theirs.

I played the single-mom card and tried to look sad and pathetic atop my newly-cleaned livingroom rug (which, by the way, now looks fabulous). He practically rolled his eyes before cutting his asking price in half.

If only this bedazzled salesman knew what he was dealing with he never would have dispatched his team to my home. I am no domestic maven. And while I care about the health of my children (almost obsessively) I would expose them to all the dust mites in the world in order to put $1000 into their college accounts rather than buy his sterling silver, streamlined vacuum cleaner.

The Boss Man, dejected and annoyed, left the poor Demo Guy to clean up his mess, literally. And before the Demo Guy ducked out my front door, his magical vacuum cleaner in tow, he asked that I return the air freshener. Because apparently I sucked more than their vacuum cleaner and their sales practices.


shawn said...



The whole posting left me laughing ... Shauna your writing is a breath of fresh air, the three person tag team ending with a snatched air freshner is utterly and totally HILARIOUS !!!


Thelissa said...

Yeah, I can't believe they took the air freshener back. That is pretty cheap if you ask me! I must admit I have fallen prey to the same presentation. They only reason he made it through the door is because my hubby answered. Then the guy laid on the guilt by telling me if I didn't buy one he wouldn't be able to go to Hawaii with the company. See, that was the wrong approach with me. I'VE NEVER BEEN TO HAWAII, WHY SHOULD I SEND YOU?!!!! He left all dejected. Whatever!

LikeAstaR said...

that is why I mean from the get go (usually) they act like you wasted THEIR time when you dont' buy.. so when you know you won't, just be mean and save you both a ton of time.. but I would have kept the air freshner!! What a joke.

thatgirlblogs (shelly) said...

Must have been a Kirby?

I went through this and actually wanted to buy one but thankfully my husband was the voice of reason and held me down. We have a Dyson, and it works just fine...

Our saleslady got all weepy and told us she needed the sale to qualify for a cruise. To which we said, "and we care if you go on a cruise because....?

Anonymous said...

I really can't believe he took the air freshner back. I think the air freshner was your prize for listening to the demo, not for buying the vacuum. Unbelievable! I never, ever let salespeople in my door. Not one ever. My husband, on the other hand, would invite them all in and buy everything they are selling. He is the sucker in this family. Obviously, he is not allowed to open the door when someone knocks. Never. Ever.

Thanks for the laugh - K

Rhonda Barnes said...

I took a break from processing claims at work and thought I would die laughing with everyone around me ????? what is up with you!!! Then I shared and it gave everyone a wonderful break, like what is with the Indian giver!!! That was a wonderful story and like to call you my daughter who I am so proud of!! Love ya Mom

Karen (Pediascribe) said...

He took the air freshener back. I think I would have "accidentally" snapped it in two as I handed it to him.

Next time, let them clean your carpet. Tell them you'll think about it and could they come back next week to get your answer. Then when they come back, tell them you can't quite remember how well it worked, could they clean your carpets again to remind you. After a month of this, they should leave you alone and you've gotten yourself out of vacuuming that many times!

Spammon said...

These Kirby sales people are a joke! We had a similar experience at our house. They bold face lie to you to get in the door. I sent Kirby an email letting them know that I hate them.

and their reply:

Gustogirl said...

I let a vaccuum man in once er twice, in my defense they were different brands.(Actually my husband let the second guy in.) I just felt like such a sucker by the end. I held firm with my no answer, but was ready to kick the guy in the teeth when he wouldn't take no for an answer. Next time slam the door in their faces!:)

Eileen said...

I hate these tag teams and the pressure they put on you.

I had a similar experience with a home fire protection person. This is all because I signed up to win the girls a stuffed animal at our fair. I think we were all winners and thus, they got our names. They had to deliver the winning stuffed animal. I could not get them out of the house, the pressure was intense. They even showed pictures of family members burned badly in a fire. Thank God, my husband threw them out. It left me with nightmares.

Glad you gave them the air freshner back. You should have hit them in the head with it!

1blueshi1 said...

can you believe I actually almost went to work for those people? my parents have had the same vaccuum cleaner since 1972, during my first and only day of training, a large poster on the wall featured the company's vaccuums from the very first model to the present day and there before me in glorious color...was my parent's vaccuum cleaner.
Never take a job that features depictions of your parents' elderly vaccuum cleaner.

Carrie Wilson Link said...

Ditto Shawn!!! Love when I click over and you've posted, I always know I'm in store for a laugh!

Melodrama Mama said...

Ha-Ha! This is hilarious! I would have told him that I could buy an air freshener for much less than 2 grand!

Are all of those teenaged magazine sales people drunk? Is that why I have never gotten my magazine?

Rachel said...

I am so embarrassed but when I just had gotten out of high school I "worked" for a vacuum place like this (wasn't Kirby, though.) We offered free liters of pop...but as far as i know we never took them back. I didn't work there long enough to find out.

kristi said...

LOL...this is so funny!! Door to door salespeople make me nervous!