Scaring the Sale Out of Me

A traveling sales person who was “not selling anything” came by my house the other day. He was “not selling” home security systems. They were the best security systems ever and would change my life for the better and possibly prolong it. It was a good thing that he was “not selling” them because I was interested in “not buying” them. When I told him as much, he proceeded to glance around my yard.

“Yeah. I chose to come to your house because it’s so far away from the street light and located by that grove of trees.” He proceeded to tell me all the reasons why he’d determined that my house was a prime target for criminals.

Seriously? Was he seriously trying to scare me into buying the product he was “not selling”? Yes. Yes he was. As he listed all the ways he could break into my house, I started to wonder whether he had previous experience working in the burgling industry. I wondered if he would break into my house and steal the money from my bread canister if I didn’t just fork it over as payment for the security system.

Our pest control guys did the same thing. They showed pictures of ROUSs and gave me a ridiculous list of all the diseases rodents are known to carry. If I didn’t want my children to die the death of characters in a British nursery rhyme, I’d better cough up the $3000 for the rat vacuum.

Just yesterday we took our car in to the shop because the brakes were squeakish. We’ve used the same shop for years and trust them completely. When I dropped off the car, I noticed that the parking lot wasn’t nearly as full as usual… and the store sign had been replaced with a garish neon marquee. The classic car in the show room had been replaced by a pile of sale-priced tires and the general manager was nowhere to be seen. I asked the new guy what had happened to Rick. “Oh, the previous owner retired and sold the place. It’s under new management.”

Hmmm… I might as well have picked a shop out of the yellow pages for all the experience I had with this guy. Not sure what to do, I left the car with him anyway. What I thought would be a $500 brake job turned into $2400 of “necessary” but unobvious repairs.

He asked if we wanted him to go ahead with the repairs, assuring us that if we didn’t do them, our car was a proverbial time bomb rolling around the streets of Seattle. What could we do? We don’t know anything about cars. He could have told us that our radish was lazy and we would have told him to fix it if he said it was life threatening.

I’d like to see this kind of scary sales tactic spread into other industries.

At the makeup counter — “Dang! You’ve got some seriously bad skin. Did you know that if you don’t perform microderm abrasion on skin LIKE THAT, your face will start turning purple at age 37?”

In the smoothie shop — “People with (How many do you have? 3?) 3 kids who live in the Seattle area are 30% more likely to develop fibrous tuboflomia than werewolves living in Athens… UNLESS they ingest dandelion fluff in liquid form twice daily. Would you like me to add some to your drink for just 2 dollars more? You’d like your mommy to maintain long-term use of her earlobes, right little girl?”

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32 Responses to Scaring the Sale Out of Me

  1. JaniceNW says:

    hmmmmmmmmm, what did Eve just win?

  2. Rebecca says:

    I’m trying not to think of ANY diseases that rodents can carry, since we’re in the middle of a Loathesome Mice Invasion right now.

  3. Heather says:

    AS YOU WISH! Yeah, scare tactics pretty much make me say” in you face succa” and go somewhere else. I recently had the guy “Not selling” water purification systems. I LOVED the look on his face when I said my kids drink soda and fruit juce ALL day and never have water – so we didn’t need the system he “wasn’t selling”. (Yeah I was KIDDING! in case that wasn’t clear…)

  4. Sarah says:

    That sales tactic makes me so frustrated. I of course know nothing about automatic garage doors, so when a garage door expert tells me “you need to get this replaced or it will fall on your children” I want to believe him. That’s his job, right? He should know.

    Anyway that’s one of the reasons why for most decisions I run them by my husband. He’s not as gullible as I am.

  5. Jeana says:

    I think you should have used your rat vacuum on the home security guy.

    And by the way, did you know that if you don’t read Daring Young Mom every day, your funny bone will crack and the crack will spread then all your skeletals will crumble into your shoes and you will plop on the floor like a blob of Jello? It’s absolutely true.

  6. Jeana says:


    This post title is one of my favorites, right up there with Hertz So Good.

  7. MommyJ says:

    very very funny! I hate door to door sales… you know, I have an old acquaintance who sells security systems. Talked about how he didn’t mind selling a system to an old woman that couldn’t afford it because she’d be safer, and that’s all that mattered. Like you can justify taking advantage of people… and basically stealing their money… they may be broke, but they’ll be safe! Oh, it makes me ill. Your very funny post though makes me feel better.

  8. When I was pregnant with our oldest, we decided to get some life insurance. The guy used that tactic on a PREGNANT HORMONAL LADY and told me we needed to get enough so that I could lie in bed and cry for six months if my husband died and left me alone with a tiny baby.

    And I believed him. In fact, I cried when he left and I thought about that prospect again. Jerk.

  9. Stephanie says:

    This is SOOOO true. I hate that nonsense.

  10. The Wiz says:

    And a vacuum salesman will tell you that your home is filthy and your children will die of respiratory illnesses and severe asthma if you don’t buy a 2000 vacuum. Your chilkdren’s health is worth it, right?

  11. Heidi says:

    If you’d like the name of a reputable mechanic, I can’t recommend Dr. Dan (of alternative fuel fame) highly enough. He’s in Ballard, which isn’t exactly in your neighborhood, but it could be worth the drive. Email me if you’d like more info.

  12. Jane says:

    You know, that security system guy COULD have been casing the joint, checking you out and whatever he could spy through the door… It happened to my parents, only it was a siding sales guy. Not to really scare you or anything, but it does happen.

  13. We bought a security system a couple of years ago, and I specifically chose the company that tried to scare me LEAST. That’s just wrong.

  14. Margaret says:

    I think it depends what you want to be “safe” FROM. _I_ would like to be safe from salespeople who annoy and attempt to manipulate me. Therefore, I will install a teenager with a fire hose who will squirt the heck out of them as they approach my front door.

    And that will be so entertaining that I could cancel my cable. And all my movie store membership cards.

    And quit my job.

  15. Rachel says:

    We just had the car thing with our brakes last week! It totally sucks if you don’t know a lot about cars. They did the exact same thing to us, after qoting only $89 to replace the pads in the back over the phone, once we got the car there, they “checked it all out” and shot us a quote over $1400. My hubby (luckily) knows a lot about cars, and actually touched and looked at every life threatening “problem” they mentioned, and NONE were actaully a problem. He told them to put it back together and he’d take it somewhere else unless they JUST did the brakes at the quoted price.
    After reluctantly “talking to their manager” they said they’d have it done in a couple of hours! It makes me feel totally helpless though because if I ever had to go by myself I know I wouldn’t have a clue whether what they said were true or not!!

  16. I’m so glad we’re skint. We used to get pressure sales like those all the time. But even if they had of been convincing enough to sway us, we never had the money to ‘not buy’ anything from them anyway. And my partners credit history is so bad it embarresses ine, which hasn’t even been born yet, lol.

  17. Loralee says:

    I took a PR/Marketing class that had us watch 2 hours of television a day and write down what form of “Sell” each commercial represented. The scare tactic was used so often it made me nauseated and angry.

  18. Lori says:

    Oh! I hate how people do this! This summer I got my hair cut and while walking back to the hairwasher, the girl asked me if I wanted such and such treatment because my ends looked fried. I said yes because she made it sound like it was free. When I went to pay, my $30 haircut cost my $65 because of the treatment. But by that time, I couldn’t say nevermind. Jerk!

  19. Lori says:

    I wanted to include a new comment because I had my old website on that last one…just in case anyone is interested in reading my blog…

  20. Liz says:

    So after reading your post it made me start thinking, and then when i’m watching TV, there was the ad for Lysol spray, or Clorox Wipes, or something about how even if “noone in your home is sick, there are still millions of germs in your home. MILLIONS, MILLIONS, Bwhahahaha.” Anyway, that made me so stinkin’ mad. How many years have humans lived with germs, and hmm numerous studies have shown that kids who are never exposed to germs, and allergens have a greater risk of developing illnesses and allergies. Let me think about this a minute…. would I rather totally sterlize my home, and then the minute my son walks out the door, he’s sick, or hmm, let a few germs, and dust mites co-habitate with us and build a healthy immune system.
    Of course their always the bubble approach….

  21. Margaret says:

    I agree with Liz.

    But I still close the toilet lid before I flush.

  22. Pops says:

    I would be curious to know what they ended up fixing on your car – maybe email me a list of the stuff.

    The problem with cars these days is there is a large gray area where yes, there are things that could be “fixed” or improved, but they aren’t really life-threatening. Dishonest mechanics will tell you things are broken when they aren’t. Shady mechanics will tell you things need to be fixed that could be fixed but aren’t really hurting anything. An honest mechanic will tell it like it is and let you choose. Too bad there aren’t many of the latter any more.

  23. Melissa says:

    When we first moved here I wasn’t sure I would like the whole gated community thing… but you have just given me another reason to enjoy it.

  24. KYouell says:

    I had a pest control guy try to pull that on me. Jerk! The more he talked the less likely I was to buy. Wish I had said so at the time. He even tried to tell me that I should worry about my kids because one of our neighbors kids was bitten. 1) No other kids on this part of our street. 2) I’m more worried about the rattlesnakes that like to come in from the nature area behind us. 3) What with the nature area behind us, won’t all the spiders just come back?

  25. jk2boys says:

    That’s plain scary, about the guy “not selling” security systems…we had a guy “not selling” magazines.
    I heard from another blog that you can put up a sign that reads something like: “If I’m not expecting you I don’t answer the door”
    It would be kind of nice if door to door sales became illegal.

  26. eve's friend says:

    Oh girl you are hilarious…I want to see what your kids turn out like with such a clever mommy. I bought a magazine one time from a guy at my door because I thought he was going to remember where I lived and come back and kill me. Ironically, the one I chose (though under the influence of fear) turned out to be one of my favorite magazines that I actually RENEW every year.

  27. Nancy says:

    Totally funny…and all so true! So, if you do find a good, wholesome mechanic in the area, please share the joy! Otherwise, we may be driving to Ballard with Heidi!

  28. Mara says:

    Anyone who can work a Princess Bride allusion into a blog post wins at life.

    Congratulations on winning, and remember: kids suffer from fewer allergies when exposed to *more* dirt and germs. Overprotection = underveloped, weaker immune systems!

  29. Paige says:

    That’s why we hate auto shops. hate them. Hate them, hate them.

    Something about necessary evil.

  30. jk2boys says:

    I just had a teen come by my house “not selling magazines” She insisited that I would be “supporting teens, keeping them off the streets and off drugs” because they get 50% of the profit and it’s a job for them.
    I didn’t buy it. For many reasons, one being my husband already fell for that once this year and the second being I don’t ever want to buy something door to door ever ever again. (I need to get a big dog).
    Anyway, what I still don’t get is why do these people say they aren’t selling magazines when they are? I guess they just want to keep their foot in your door as long as possible.
    HOWEVER, I don’t think this helps anyone.
    I’d rather see these teens get real, reliable jobs, like at a fast food resturant, where they get paid regularly. That’s how my sister supported herself, she got paid whether people bought french fries or not. A job that pays only when you sell doesn’t sound like a great thing for them.
    Another thing: You might not ever get the magazines they “aren’t selling”…so really it’s kind of like door to door pan handling. Basically giving money to these people, just ’cause they asked…’cause, you know, they are working…they are walking door to door, asking for money…and that’s WORK (if you can’t tell, I’m trying hard to be sarcastic here).
    OH, another interesting thing was that this girl said she was from Dallas, TX, so that makes me wonder what is she doing selling magazines in the SEATTLE area?? It was just all too strange for me. I HATE door to door sells!

  31. jk2boys says:

    Sorry so long.

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