Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The Saleswoman from Hell

A few weeks ago, I had taken the day off from work to run some errands.  I had gone to lunch with a friend of mine, and when I returned, I was treated to this spectacle:  a woman I've never seen before was cleaning my carpet.  She had 6 or 8 black cloths lying on the floor, soiled with all the dust and filth she had successfully pulled out of our carpet.  My husband and his friend, who had joined him for lunch, were standing and watching helplessly as this woman barged into our house and proceeded to show them how much they needed a Kirby. 

I walked in, watched for about 2 minutes and then announced, "Well, you guys have fun.  I'm going to take a nap."  (Yes, it was a cheap attempt to extricate myself from the situation, but I wasn't the one who let her in the house.)   But Oh, no, Ms. Kirby was definitely of the sexist mindset that women do the majority of housecleaning, so she said, "Just wait, Jen, I'll be done in about 10 minutes.  I want you to see all the great things this Kirby does!"

Ten minutes became 45 minutes.  And she was still going.  She insisted on vacuuming my favorite chair, which really did not turn out much dirt.  I am happy to exist with that small amount of grime surrounding me - it's just enough to add a little cushion to favorite chair. I became increasingly frustrated at her audacity, especially when she demanded that I let her vacuum our mattress.  On our bed.  In our bedroom.  Disturbing.

On a side not, as Ms. Kirby was demonstrating her wares, she also managed to show us wares that we had no interest in buying, as her shirt was cut low and large and swooped down almost to the floor as she leaned over to change equipment.  We all diverted our eyes uncomfortably, especially my husband's lunch guest who happens to be a single, celibate man who has devoted his life to the Lord's service.

I have always been of the mindset that, if something works well, it is worth the money.   A Kirby makes sense because it not only pulls the dirt out of the carpet and the pad underneath, but it also preserves the life of your carpet.  (But, let's face it.  How many people want to keep the same carpet after 20 years?  If you chose that beautiful shade of chartreuse back in the 80's, you may just want a change by now.)  Even so, it makes sense to buy something that is worth the money, right?

However, we didn't happen to have $2300 lying around to purchase a Kirby that day.  Yes, you read that correctly - over 2 Grand for a Kirby.  So, of course, the nice lady offered us an affordable payment plan of $44/month.  Even so, I politely explained that since my husband is on disability and I am going to cut back on my work hours, we weren't able to make a financial commitment at that time, no matter how great the deal was.  So, she offered us the "6-month, no payments, no interest" plan.  This lady was just not getting it.  My husband is out of work.  Due to a stroke.  And we have 4 kids. She assured us - more than once - "well, the last thing I want to do is take food off the table", but she always followed that statement with a "but".  She also threw in a lame comment about earning so many points and she would be able to take a trip to Cancun.  Um, how exactly was that going to convince us to buy a Kirby?

Her last "but" was this phone call:  She wanted to call her manager so that we could talk to him and assure him that she did her job (i.e. so that he could give us a hard sell over the phone).  She hung up and said, "he's just going to come over."  Here is the truly creepy part:   About 3 minutes later, her manager showed up, which made me wonder where on earth he was hiding the entire time.  He was a large man, simple-looking man, well over 6 feet tall.  He ducked in through our doorway, and (I'm not usually a judgmental person), but my first thought was "serial killer."

So, tell me this.  Telemarketers are obnoxious enough.  Junk mail and spam are annoying.  But what gives someone the right to barge their way into your home and practically force you to buy something that you weren't really in the market for?

I may think highly of Kirby vacuum cleaners, but we finally convinced the sales team to leave without purchasing one.  In fact, I will probably never buy one, based on their horrible sales tactics.


  1. We were treated to a similar experience.....it was DEADLY. In our case, though, the saleswoman was a poor, thin, tired-looking woman.....in very modest, but very worn out "dressy" clothes. The inability to take "no" for an answer was SO exhausting, because, like you, we CAN NOT under any circumstances whatsoever, afford ANY vacuum. If it were free and we only had to buy bags, I couldn't afford it. But she wouldn't let us say no - and again, she had to call her "boss" to have him ascertain she'd done her job. That was SO disturbing; it made me think "human trafficking" except this lady was clearly a citizen....but she had the demeanor of a slave.....and their approach made her seem like one. Awful, awful sales approach.

    But, that actually beats the person who once came to demonstrate a different kind of vacuum. This thing was "famous" for sucking every organism from the depths of anything.....to illustrate she sucked it toward a couch cushion and that cushion was instantaneously turned into a hard little ball. This was not inspiring - what the heck! It looked like she was ruining it! But she assured me not! After she gave it back to me, while I was trying to comfort it back into shape she stabbed her vacuum wand at my antique lamp - and in a flash the entire shade, beautifully preserved, hundred year old silk, hand-embroidered with tiny crystal beads - was GONE. I was too upset to do anything but shoo them out of my house. I wish to this day I'd demanded a replacement!

  2. Thaaaaat is ridiculous! I think you were far too nice!

  3. Annie, that is horrible! I will never allow another salesperson in my house again!

  4. Haha... funny story - even if it was horrible for you! You do have the cutest blog on the block Jen! Very talented in your page and and your writing is always fun...

    I also had a kirby vaccuum person last week... only I liked it and the poor guy had to rush through the demo as we were trying to leave to go out of town for the day. We were also told "10 minutes", which was actually 30... but I have NO trouble saying NO to these people. I am familiar with their tactics and have no problem saying NO in the end. I even enjoy explaining why it would not be wise!

    I did it for the free car vac, which I have wanted for a long time! Thank you very much! I love it and the guy vacuumed my chair for me for free. I refused the bed demo due to time, but would have allowed him to even clean the mattress for me if I wasn't on a schedule!

    I see it as free gifts and chores done for me that I would not get to for a very long time myself! anyway, I enjoyed your story!!

  5. I don't even respond to those calls (from Kirby) offering the chance of a free carpet cleaning... Let alone anyone who comes to the door!

  6. I went to a McDonald's once and the person was a jerk. I bet he even spit in the food. You know what? I think all fast food people are like that. In fact, I'll never eat out at a restaurant again. Bunch of jerks!

    Sarcasm aside I'm sorry to hear your story. Nobody hates a bad salesman more than a good one. Please remember one man doesn't represent an entire international 100yr old company, let alone an entire profession. Sorry if I'm reactive. I see you're a faithful Christian. Consider how you feel when you hear horror stories about bad Christians. It's similar.


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