How a Vacuum Sales Call Almost Sucked Me In

I’ve always viewed myself as street smart. I don’t take candy from strangers. I don’t run on pool decks. I don’t dance naked in wind storms...So how did I end up this close (and I mean this close!) to purchasing a Kirby vacuum from a door-to-door salesperson? Well, let me count the ways:

Mistake #1: Taking a Phone Survey

My first mistake was answering the phone. When the fateful call came in, the number was blocked on my caller ID, and I knew it had to be a telemarketer. Ugh.

Anywho, I answered the phone to the chipper voice of a teenage telemarketer. She sounded pleasant enough, and when she asked if I had time to take an allergy survey, I took pity on the poor soul. I said yes.

The cute little voice ran me through a bunch of allergy questions to which I answered no to everything. No, I don’t have allergies to dust. No, my hubby does not have allergies to animals. No, my Great Dane is not allergic to humans. Basically, my household is simply unallergetic.

By the end of the call, I was sure that was the end of my telemarketing experience. The girl thanked me for my time and told me that I was being placed in a drawing for a $50 gift card to Applebee’s for my participation. Awesome; free food is always good.

Mistake #2: Answering the Phone Again

A few weeks after my survey phone call, another telemarketer called to let me know that I won the gift card. I was excited! I love Applebee’s, and a free date night is hard to come by.

However, to get my gift card, I needed to sit through a 20 minute allergy spiel at my home. I was hesitant, but I thought that $50 for 20 minutes was a pretty good deal. I told the (very nice) telemarketer that I don’t have allergies and the presentation would be a waste of the salesperson’s time.

Her response? “The salesperson in your area is new at this, and he just wants a few minutes to practice his pitch and get some feedback.”

My response: “Oh, well, sure, I guess. Bring on the newbie!”

Mistake #3: Letting a Salesperson into my Home

Okay, by now I’m sure you’re all inwardly groaning, “Don’t let a salesperson into your home! You’ll never get him to leave!” Well, you are all supremely correct, but here’s the story.

So I answered the door to a cute little boy, no older than eighteen. Yes, he did seem very green, and somehow that made me feel more secure. I let him in.

The thing is, once he got inside, he was a fully-trained selling machine! He expertly took me through a two hour presentation (yes, two hours!) about the ins and outs of an air purifier and vacuum. Both were named Air Pure, and both did seem like very good products. The air purifier was well-built, and the vacuum really did pick up about 10 times as much dirt as my Dyson. Oh, and by the way, wouldn’t you know it, this little sales guy kept telling me I was the smartest woman he’d ever met…

I won’t bore you with all the other details about the machines – remember this was a two hour presentation in which we covered a lot of ground – but I will say that by the time he finished his pitch, I was almost sucked in. I needed that vacuum.

Mistake #4: Showing a Tiny Bit of Interest

Of course, by the time I realized that I needed that vacuum like nobody’s business, he knew he had a live one on the end of his line. He took me through the prices ($1500 for the vacuum alone), but for me, he could drop that price to $1200.

Thank God, some of my sanity returned at this point. I told him for that dollar amount, I needed to consult with my husband. My little sales guy was shocked, and he kept insisting I purchase at that exact moment. He called his boss no less than ten times to get me even better deals, but he finally gave up when I kept insisting that this dollar amount was a joint purchase and I needed to speak to my husband.

All in all, this experience was one of the most disappointing I have ever sat through. I wasted over two hours on this sales call, and I never even got my gift card. Supposedly, it’s in the mail, but I don’t expect it to ever show the light of day on my doorstep.

My point in all of this? If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. Oh, and if you ever have the opportunity to take an allergy survey on the phone, ask them to take you off their list.

Has anyone else been suckered into sitting through a sales call?

Anonymous's picture

Lindy Mint wrote:

Fri, 08/05/2011 - 20:06 Comment #: 1

Haha. I love how your first mistake was answering the phone. I never answer the home phone unless it's my mom.

That's quite the elaborate scheme they had going on. I'm actually a little impressed it's so elaborate. Especially since they got a savvy person like you to get sucked in. Good thing you had the husband excuse to get him outta there. That's always a good one. :)

Anonymous's picture

femmefrugality wrote:

Fri, 08/05/2011 - 21:04 Comment #: 2

Oh, man! I've been to make up and even (gasp) sex toy parties (reeeaaaaallllly awkward.) Even though they're not the same thing, they can sure feel that way.

I used to work for a company that did independent research, though, and I'm glad you were nice to that initial salesgirl! In a lot of cases, they really aren't selling anything, just doing market research. And most people are really rude! They just don't want to believe that someone wants their opinion.

And after your recent experience, I can see why. :)

Anonymous's picture

The Dividend Pig wrote:

Sat, 08/06/2011 - 22:03 Comment #: 3

That's an interesting story...my girlfriend once was a similar situation (with a landlord, and money we did not owe) and he kept pressuring her to pay. She said she would have to consult me (a man) and he kept balking. Then he finally gave up and said forget it...I'm not sure why men feel they can get one over on women like that. Though I'm sure it was a nice vacuum, good job staying strong!

Anonymous's picture

cashflowmantra.com wrote:

Sat, 08/06/2011 - 22:51 Comment #: 4

Oh that's terrible. Suckered in, no. But I have had to sit through some. I usually just make an excuse about another appointment if the allotted time is surpassed. Then I say you have to leave since I am leaving also so I get out of the house. Just go to the library or something.

Christa Palm's picture

Christa Palm wrote:

Tue, 08/09/2011 - 14:12 Comment #: 5

Lindy Mint, I also avoid my home phone like the plague and only keep it around to talk to my mom and sister on long phone calls (the cell is uncomfortable to hold over a long period of time). So for me to pick up the phone at all was a huge mistake! And yes, the elaborateness of their scheme was a huge surprise to me as well!

Femme, I agree that Tupperware parties (and sex toy parties!) can be very high pressure! I once went to a scrapbooking party that was almost impossible to leave without purchase -- I was scared my co-worker would lock me in the dungeon until I bought! I also agree that surveys can be fine -- I was a telemarketer for a few months in the summer in HS, and I know they can be legit!

Dividend Pig, your story is interesting because after this kid left, I looked up the company, and I guess they target stay-at-home / work-at-home moms and women in general. Pretty crappy of a business to think they can get one over on any one group!

Cashflowmantra, good idea to bring up an appointment. I thought about that when I let the kid in -- tell him I had to leave in 20 minutes. But I missed my window of polite notice, and I didn't want to feel rude -- how silly is that?!

Anonymous's picture

Anonymous wrote:

Fri, 08/12/2011 - 22:14 Comment #: 6

I had the same experience but get this...my husband was there for the pitch. I can't let men into my home without him there, I am too scared that they will be Ted Bundy. Anyway, my husband even wanted the vacuum but remained reasonable-it was really expensive. We said no and then did our research. The company he claimed to represent was no where to be found. It was a big scheme. Kinda scary.

Christa Palm's picture

Christa Palm wrote:

Fri, 08/12/2011 - 22:34 Comment #: 7

@ Anonymous: Good to hear I'm not alone! When I read about the company on the internet, others agreed that they were high-pressure sales and all. That whole scheme thing is really scary, though!

Anonymous's picture

Scams: It Doesn’t Always Take Money to Make Money | MomVesti wrote:

Wed, 10/12/2011 - 11:15 Comment #: 8

[...] Unfortunately, this happens quite often. Scammers are pretty good at pretending to care…until they have you in the web. When they are trying to sell, they’ll pull out all the stops with overzealous selling techniques (Note: I know this firsthand. I was almost scammed). [...]

Anonymous's picture

Women and Finances: Getting Started Budgeting and Investing wrote:

Wed, 01/18/2012 - 21:15 Comment #: 9

[...] Learn how to avoid impulse buys – see how sales gimmicks are designed to suck us in (pun intended). [...]

Anonymous's picture

Friday Round-Up: The Best in Personal Finance Blogs | MomVes wrote:

Fri, 05/18/2012 - 11:15 Comment #: 10

[...] Here’s why: I have become the Kirby vacuum target in my area, ever since my first experience with a vacuum sales guy almost a year ago. As you may remember, I fell for a sales tactic that left me really, truly, honestly considering a $2000 vacuum purchase. All because they would give me a $50 gift card for allowing a “green sales guy” to practice his pitch in front of me (read the whole story here). [...]

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