Dear Salespeople,

[Warning: This blog entry showcases an unattractive side of my personality, so if you are eager to maintain your good opinion of me, please skip. If you never cared for me much to begin with, however, go ahead and read on.]
An open letter to all persons who may at some point wish to sell me something:
I have nothing against salespeople, really. Nor do I have anything against most of the products they sell. Yet most of my encounters with salespeople, or sales tactics in general, have inspired in me the desire never to have anything to do with that person, product, or company, ever again; in addition they have caused me to wish that I never had to buy anything ever again. Now, I assume that sales practices are intended to appeal the broadest possible segment of the population; yet when I have discussed the following practices with people, they tend to agree with me. Perhaps my acquaintances and I are exceptional, but perhaps not. In any case, here are some requests I would make of all those who wish to sell things to me.

Please do not call me by my first name, unless we are already close friends or relatives. This is an informal social world we live in, and if I met you socially, calling one another by first names would be the expected thing to do, and would be no more than friendly. However, we are not meeting socially, we are meeting in a business context in which you wish me to purchase the goods or services you are selling; hence I would appreciate it if you would not assume familiarity, but rather would show courtesy by calling me by my last name with its appropriate prefix. I would, of course, afford you the same courtesy.
Please do not call me at my home uninvited. In my opinion this should come under the category of crank calls: an illegal form of harrassment. I have no idea how this abusive business practice has persisted; everyone hates it and I can’t imagine that anybody actually purchases goods and services through this sort of solicitation, but apparently they do, unfortunately. I may not get around to telling you this during the call, since I am eager to get rid of this annoyance and get back to my life as quickly as possible, but I will never, ever, under any circumstances purchase anything from any company who feels it appropriate to come barging into my life, without my permission, with no regard for whether I’m working, sleeping, socializing, mourning, waiting for an important call, whatever.
Even more importantly, please do not demand personal information from me. This is not only annoying, it is offensive–it would be rude even for those closest to me to ask for such information. The main culprits on my dislike list for this practice are those who wish to consolidate my student loans for me. Er, if I wanted my student loans consolidated, I’d have it done through a financial instution that I’ve actually *heard of before*, not some anonymous voice over the phone. If I had already agreed to do business with you, of course you would need the information; but if you are asking for it beforehand, it only makes me suspect that you may be a criminal.
Here is an example of what I’m talking about, based on an actual occurrence:
Representative of phone company X: “Hi, Michele! How’s it going? So, I see you’ve switched long distance companies. We’d really like to have you back! So tell me, how much are you paying with the new company?”
Michele’s mental response: (None of your !#@$ business, you !#@$ jerk.)
Michele’s verbal response: “Um, I don’t think that’s any of your business.” (Wish I’d said something more polite, but was pretty rattled that some stranger would call me up, unbidden, act like he’s sure I want to be best friends with him, and ask me about details of my finances.)
R of PC X: “Oh, come on! I’m not going to do anything with your info!”
Michele: *click*
An interesting psychological tidbit about me and I imagine lots of others out there: Advertising doesn’t work. I rarely, if ever, purchase anything because I’ve seen an ad for it. I buy stuff that I like, or that people that I trust say is good, or for more significant purchases I might do research on which product is the best. If your ad is interesting, I’ll pay attention, but I’ll remember the ad without having any recollection as to what it was for. However, if like most ads, yours features annoying music, migraine-inducing visual imagery, and non-stop jabbering, I will not be moved to purchase your product. Rather, I will make good use of the mute button, leave the room, or turn off TV altogether.
If your ad is for something inherently disgusting, or deals with topics which should only be discussed with a doctor or one’s closest loved ones (such as feminine hygiene products, STD remedies (still can’t believe they actually put these on television), or some type of Viagara drug), I will not only not watch the ad, I might just throw my TV or radio out the window. Especially if you put them on during dinnertime. Ugh.
Yours truly,
Mrs. Rau

2 Responses to “Dear Salespeople,”

  1. Kim says:

    What really irks me is the thick-headed persistence of salespeople, especially telemarketers, in the face of my polite rejection. I have a terrific excuse for saying no when people call asking for a contribution, subscription, etc.: “Gee, I’d really love to [buy something, give money] but I lost my job several months ago and we don’t have the extra money for [whatever product/service].” You would think this would get them off the phone. Instead I get a (rather insensitive) rebuttal: “How about a $10 donation then, or such and such a cheaper deal?” I just want to scream at them: “What part of the terms ‘no job’ and ‘no extra money’ don’t you understand?!?!” Thank goodness for the do-not-call registry.

  2. Bill says:

    Great post.
    Being on the West coast, my favorite calls are of the 8:00 Saturday morning variety. Some moron in New York or something is calling me to offer some ridiculous product and not only annoying me, but waking me up from a sound sleep on my only morning to sleep in. However, my favorite all-time telemarketing call went like this:
    Caller: Hi, is William there?
    Me: This is he.
    Caller: (Wondering why I said “this is he” when it was me on the phone) I’m calling today to offer you a Credit Protect Life Insurance policy. In the unlikely event that something happens to you, your credit card balance will be paid off…free for the first 30 days…only $79.99 per year.
    Me: I’m not interested.
    Caller: Why not? It’s free.
    Me: I’m not interested.
    Caller: How can you not be interested in something that’s free?
    Me: I don’t want the hassle of having to remember to cancel before the trial period is up.
    Caller: It’s not a hassle. If you don’t like the program you can call and cancel and you won’t be billed.
    Me: (Now fully angry.) First of all, I don’t carry balances on my credit cards, so there’s nothing to insure. Secondly, it’s a hassle if I have to remember to call you back within a month to cancel some ridiculous insurance policy that I won’t use. Thirdly, how can you “try out” an insurance policy? If I die during the trial period it worked out well for me? (I slam down the phone.)
    After that, I got caller ID and I simply refuse to answer the phone if the display comes up “unknown caller.” But I find I still have to ignore at least 2 calls a night…

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