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 The classic car in the show room had been replaced by a pile of sale-priced tires and the general manager was nowhere to be seen.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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