Friday, January 29, 2010

Sales Pitches Suck

My husband let a vacuum cleaner salesman into our house last night.
I’ll give him credit for not realizing that these people were selling vacuums.  Their ploy was to offer a free one-room carpet cleaning, and I assumed (as I think my husband did) that they were selling either maid service or carpet-cleaning services.  I think the agreement was for them to clean our stairs (as our dining room is not in need of it, and the rest of the main level lacks carpet), and I’m not entirely sure whether they did that or not.
The whole experience was funny.  They had some kind of bait-and-switch tactic with the sales people, as the first door-knockers were female and it was a male salesman who then moved in for the kill.  A talkative male salesman who was really hard to shut up.  He set up shop in our front room (the dining room with “formal” sitting area) and soon had our oversized coffee table covered in little round filters showing various puffs of dirt that their miraculous vacuum had extracted from our floor.  And of course, he had my husband bring out our current vaccum for comparison.
Trystan, my pint-sized vacuum-obsessed engineer, was fascinated by the whole show.  Had the Wonder Pets arrived in their flyboat, he would not have left the scene of the demonstration.  No, we didn’t buy a vacuum.  Are you kidding?  Their so-called list price was over $3,000.  Yes I meant every one of those zeros.  Their so called offer prices (and there were 4 of them, depending on your payment method) were all over $1,000.  That was the funny part.
I am not a fan of salespeople.  I like to evaluate purchases by my own criteria—usually some mix of need, aesthetic qualities, functionality, and price.  Having someone talk for an hour straight attempting to push every emotional button while performing sleight-of-hand does not sway me.  It annoys me.
Some of my “favorite” sales techniques from last night:
  1. The fact that their vacuum could always suck up a tiny bit more fuzz and dirt out of our carpet, even after using our vacuum.  Clearly our vacuum is crap. 
  1. Funny, he wasn’t cleaning out and testing our vacuum repeatedly to see if it stopped extracting fuzz at some point.  He just asserted that if his worked then our must have stopped.  Hmmm…did we mention that we’re engineers?
  2. Our carpet is nearly 10 years old. And cheap.  And l don’t actually trust our builder to have thoroughly cleaned our subfloor before installing the carpet and pad. I’d be shocked if a vacuum failed to find dirt and lint and carpet fibers and disintegrating pad flakes.
  1. If anyone in the house has allergies, you have to buy this vacuum.
  1. If our allergies are that severe, we nix the carpet, not the vacuum.  You catch a lot more dander with a mop any day.  And I can lay a lot of laminate for $3000.
  1. The only way to buy the super-duper vacuum is when someone knocks on your door and covers your living room with tiny filter circles demonstrating just how many dead skin cells you can shed.
  1. Are you telling me that if I call your company and say “I’m willing to part with a few grand” that you won’t have a salesman at my door in minute?
  2. If that’s true, then your fancy sucky device is a total, utter rip-off and you know it.
  1. All those same-branded vacuums you just found for sale on line are stolen. 
  1. Even the ones in your company’s online store?  Weird.
  1. You can either buy a Chevy Cobalt  or a Mercedes, your choice
  1. Um, for that price I probably could buy a Chevy Cobalt.  Or at least pay a maid for a year to come vacuum my carpets for me.  And seriously, if I’m not the one cleaning out the bag/filter/whatever the heck kind of parts, why would I care?  I don’t intend to eat off of my carpet, and my toes aren’t offended by a little dust.
  2. The guy never asked what kind of car I drive.  A 7-year old Honda, not a shiny new Mercedes (or a Chevy for that matter).  I like dependable vehicles with a low total cost of ownership.  I’d probably still be driving my ’98 Honda if it weren’t for a little close encounter on the highway 7 years back.  And our existing vacuum already fills that role (1) its already bought and paid for and 2) there are no bags or filters to buy for it ever).
  3. A Mercedes is a status symbol.  I tend to hide my vacuum when company comes over, not go cruising in it.
  1. There was some anecdote about having to continually replace broken hammers, and how his father told him to just buy a good one.
  1. Yeah, you totally weren’t paying attention to the vacuum we already own.  6? years old.  Going strong.  No bags or filters to buy for it ever.  My hammer’s not broken.                 
So, vacuum man, thanks for the show. You kept the kids entertained. Do you sing?  They really like songs.  Next time you come by, I’ll have you demonstrate in the basement.  I bet dead pillbugs would look cool on those little filters of yours.

1 comment:

Bethany said...

I just remembered a similar experience when I was a teenager, except my parents called for the sales guy to show up. My stepfather, an avid researcher of mundane appliances, had spent something like 4 months looking for the perfect vacuum (4 months with a semi functioning vacuum if I remember correctly). It was a Rainbow Vac (don't know if it's the same brand this guy was selling) and he did eventually buy one. I don't think it cost $1000, if it had I'm sure we wouldn't have ended up with one, but it may have been close to $500 in 1990. They kept it for years and he swore it was a great vacuum cleaner, but after a while Mom started to hate it. It was bulky, huge, looked like a shop vac, and didn't fit into tight spots. I think it made the trip to New Mexico when they moved, but was sold when my parents made the switch from carpet to tile. They too found an option around expensive vacuums. Me? I can't keep a working vacuum but only have two area rugs to worry about.