My home, my sanctuary

I accept that we live in a consumer society.  Everywhere we go, there is advertising. People in malls try to sell you hand cream and hair straighteners.  The supermarket puts chocolate and other goodies at the check-out.  The bus stop has ads for breakfast cereal. Billboards are stationed along the motorway selling everything from beer to botox.

Mostly, I’m okay with it.  This is the world we live in.  Sometimes I see things I need or want, most of the time I can ignore it.

But my home is my sanctuary.  It’s the one place I feel like I have control over the media or advertising I consume.  Sure, if I choose to watch television, use my laptop or phone, I’ll see advertising of some sort.  But if I find it annoying, I can always hit mute or switch off and do something else.

So when someone comes knocking on my door trying to make a sale, I get frustrated pretty quickly.  I think it’s particularly bad when they are especially pushy or deceiving, which they often are.  Invariably if I open the door and someone begins to tell me about a product, service, charity or religion, they get a very firm “no thank you”, and I close the door before they can object.

The one exception I have made to this rule is door to door surveys.  I’m a bit of a research geek, so if someone politely asks me to fill out a quick few questions (and I have the time), then I don’t  mind helping out.  Unfortunately, I had a recent experience which means that this will no longer be my policy.

A young man came and knocked on the door.  I opened, and he explained that he was not here to sell me something, rather he had a quick survey and would I mind filling it out?  He was polite and seemed legit, so I obliged.  The survey was about insurance — specifically, what insurance I did or didn’t have, and some general demographic information.

He then asked if he could have my name and number, so someone could call me and discuss my insurance options.  At this point I realised that he was probably trying to make a sale, but gave him the info as I wanted to be polite and I thought he’d quickly leave.  I figured they could always call and I would just say “no thanks”.  He then asked me to read and sign a small privacy clause, which basically stated that it was okay for them to have my name and number.  I read it and again it seemed legit, so I signed.

He then asked me to wait a moment while he “called someone to verify.”  I thought this was a bit strange but waited while he dialled.  Next thing I know, he gives his phone to me and someone is asking if I’m sure I know that this is not a survey, that I am agreeing to meet with someone to discuss insurance options and is this okay?

I immediately said “sorry, no I am not agreeing to meet with anyone”.  I explained to the woman on the phone that I thought this was a survey, with maybe a follow up phone call.  But I didn’t have the time or interest in meeting with anyone.  I gave the phone back, said sorry to the salesman and shut the door.

These are incredibly dodgy and deceptive tactics.  If it’s not bad enough that someone comes to your door to sell you something, they could at least be transparent and upfront about it.  I suspect that this company makes sales by trapping people into agreeing to the meeting before they realise what they are doing.  And I’m sure you wouldn’t escape that meeting without buying something from them.

I feel disappointed that we live in a world where this is considered to be an appropriate way to sell a product.  Is it not enough now to advertise your business services, even door to door, that you actually have to trick people into meeting with you?

For me, it simply crossed the line, and I will unfortunately no longer be filling in any door to door surveys.

What do you think?  Have you ever had a dodgy door to door experience?

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