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How A Door-to-Door Salesman Caused Me to Bite

door-to-door salesmanHere comes a true story about how a door-to-door salesman was able to pitch me into a sale.  It was the first and the last time that has ever happened!

It was the hottest part of the summer and I was the smart one that decided to build a fence.  In order to save about $1,500, I recruited a few friends and bought some lumber.  We  put up the fence “bones” over a weekend, and then I worked each night after work to put up the slates.  Each day was about 100+ degrees and I was losing my mind slowly.

After I put the fence up, I realized I had some extra lumber, so I decided to build a sweet dog house for our two dogs.  I went in the front yard and started putting it together.  About an hour into the build, I was approached by a door-to-door salesman.  Oh, crap!

I have never been a fan of door-to-door salesman.  I realize that they are trying to make a living, but I have just never been a fan.  I will usually allow someone to pitch me, but I have never bitten.  That was the truth until this day.

Hello, Mr. Alarm Salesman

The salesman was an alarm company salesman.  He had been hitting up the neighborhood for quite some time and finally got to my house.  My wife and I were actually looking to get an alarm system because of the crime that was happening in our neighborhood.  Most of the home in our neighborhood have alarm systems, so I was in the market for one.  The biggest issue was that we didn’t have a landline phone.  This was back in the day when most alarm companies didn’t have packages for homes that were only relying on a mobile connection.  This made our choice much harder to make.  Well, enter Mr. Alarm Salesman.

He approached me with a smirk and a suave tongue.  He told me about their technology and I was intrigued.  He walked me through how it would be setup and how much it would cost.  This was the time that I was in massive debt, so why not add another monthly cost.  I was naive about my money and where it was going, so why not?  I wanted my family to be safe and an alarm system was what we were looking for.

Hooked by the Pitch

home alarm system

This was my actual home alarm. My old netbook is on top to show size.

After about 30 minutes talking with Mr. Alarm Salesman, I was hooked. I had let my guard down and I think it was due to the issue of my mind melting out of my head and that his product “fit” my need.  He showed me the contract and we worked it out.  He missed a few terms and when I was on the phone with their head office to get the final approval, I was notified that I could only get the “deal” that he was offering if I allowed them to auto-draft my bank account.  NOPE!  I don’t do that for anyone, so this was not going to happen.  I talked my way into the deal by allowing me to send them a check.

Anyway, after I signed the contract (which I didn’t read), they had an installation team in my house in 10 minutes.  It was overwhelming.  They setup our system and showed us how to use it and were out by 8pm.  What a whirlwind!

My Payback

Anyway, the service worked well for the first year, but then it started having problems.  I had a severe case of buyer’s remorse because of this “adventure” and I wasn’t happy.  The big problem is that they had me in an iron-clad agreement without a cancel anytime clause.  Stupid Lawyers.  I was trying hard to find a way out of that contract.

My way came one night when our alarm went off with an attempted burglary.  As our alarm went off, I had my wife call the police.  Right before the police got to the house, the alarm company called to ask about the alarm.  What the Hell?  It had been 20 minutes since the alarm went off.  How is that response time?  Well, after the night was over, I realized that I had my way out.  Breach of contract!  HAHAHAHA!!!!!  A simple call to the headquarters and I was out and done.

This experience taught me a lot.  If you are not paying attention, a salesman can pull the wool over your eyes.  It happened to me and I didn’t even realize it.  I have vowed since that moment to not let it happen again.  If a salesman comes by with something intriguing, then I will take my time to research it.  Sometimes you learn the best lessons by failing.  I failed on this one, but I have rebound since.  A salesman caused me to bite on his pitch and I won’t fall for that again!

Has a salesperson every caused your to bite on their pitch?  If so, I want to hear your story.

Photo via FrontPoint Security

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Grayson Bell

Grayson Bell

I'm a business owner, blogger, father, and husband. I used credit cards too much and found myself in over $75,000 in debt ($50,000 in just credit cards). I paid it off, started this blog, and my financial life has changed. I now talk about fighting debt and growing wealth here. I run a WordPress maintenance and support company, along with another blog. It is Empowered Shopper, which helps people get information about products they want to buy. You can also check out Eyes on the Dollar, which is a great blog that I co-own.

59 Comments

  1. April 29, 2013 at 6:58 am — Reply

    Oh, the alarm salesman. We got those characters all the time because we live on a corner lot. Plus, the previous owners had one so I am convinced that we’re on someone’s list somewhere. Like you said, we’ve all failed – myself included. Now, I will not buy anything at first approach. If whatever it is sounds interesting, I’ll ask for their brochure and research it on my own…which generally results in me calling back a week later to say I am not interested.

    • April 29, 2013 at 9:25 am — Reply

      I get characters all of the time now. They are coming by the house all hours of the day. We rarely answer our door now. They can only get me when I am outside working on the yard or my Jeep.

  2. April 29, 2013 at 6:59 am — Reply

    We used to always get sales people come to our front door trying to sell us everything from solar panels to religion. One day I got so sick of all the door knockers (it was happening about 3 times a week) that I bought a sign and put it on our front door saying no sales people. Now when people come to the door I don’t even bother opening the door, I just point to my sign and go back to doing whatever I was doing.

    Best $2 I ever spent.

    • April 29, 2013 at 9:26 am — Reply

      I like your style Glen. Just point to the sign and then move about your day. Love it!

      • April 29, 2013 at 6:30 pm — Reply

        Ha, that’s awesome Grayson! 🙂

  3. April 29, 2013 at 7:11 am — Reply

    I’m pretty sure a salesman has got me a few times, most recently in Mexico where we ended up paying probably double for a small decorative bowl. He was just so convincing and helpful when we were looking at them! We were happy until we saw an identical one for half the price at another stall 😉

    The one great thing about the internet is how easy it is to research things now. I also need to keep that in mind before agreeing to things. I told this one door-to-door garbage salesman that he can send me the details and I’d compare to my current service. Never did, he wanted a quick signup on the spot.

    • April 29, 2013 at 9:26 am — Reply

      I wish I had a smartphone back then, I could have just pulled up some reviews and compared costs. That would have made my decision much easier. Oh well, I learned a valuable lesson and am a little wiser because of it.

  4. April 29, 2013 at 8:18 am — Reply

    I haven’t met the door-to-door salesman yet, but we were suckered in by an insurance salesman in our first go-round with life insurance. Luckily we were wary enough not to get locked into whole life, but we did pay more than we needed for more coverage than we needed. Like you said, it fit our current “need”, and in the moment it was easier than spending some time to do our own research and figure out what we really needed.

    • April 29, 2013 at 9:27 am — Reply

      Sorry to hear about that Matt. It can be hard not to get suckered once in a while. It gets too tough to keep the guard up all of the time.

  5. April 29, 2013 at 9:11 am — Reply

    I never bit the hook on the alarm sales, I did bite the hook once on the “super concentrated will even clean the grease of your engine” general purpose cleaner. % bottles of concentrate that will make about a thousand gallons of cleaner plus two free spray bottles for a measly $20! Woohoo. I think that stuff is still sitting in the garage somewhere.

    • April 29, 2013 at 9:28 am — Reply

      I got that pitch before Jose. I even had one try his “solution” on my garage floor. I have a lot of stains on the floor because of the Jeep. His solution didn’t work and he walked away with his head down. Haha!

  6. Girl Meets Debt
    April 29, 2013 at 9:20 am — Reply

    That’s awesome that you found a way out of your contract! 20 minutes response time is much too long!!! I never answer my door and pretend no one is home when door salesmen come knocking because I know I won’t buy so I don’t want to waste anyone’s time.

    • April 29, 2013 at 9:29 am — Reply

      Now I just let my dogs do the talking. They hear dogs barking and they usually just walk away quickly. It works for me.

  7. April 29, 2013 at 9:34 am — Reply

    I love that you used breach of contract to get out of it. Well played. We once bought a vacuum cleaner from a door-to-door salesman. Although it does a great job and we love it, we probably wouldn’t do that again. Boy were we suckers that day!

    • April 29, 2013 at 10:07 am — Reply

      I had to do something and I had found that the average response time was supposed to be around 2 minutes. 20 minutes was unacceptable, so I took it to them. That made me feel a little better.

  8. April 29, 2013 at 9:54 am — Reply

    I usually just never answer the door, but W is a different story. He has a hard time telling people that they can’t come in. Usually I’ll come home and notice that strangers are in the house and I have to FORCE them to leave. Luckily, W has told me many times that this is why he loves me, because I don’t care haha 🙂

    • April 29, 2013 at 10:08 am — Reply

      Haha, I like it. I don’t let anyone in my home. If someone comes up and I actually do answer the door, then I will step outside. I don’t want them to see the inside of my house.

  9. April 29, 2013 at 10:02 am — Reply

    I just bought a house and so I have made several calls to contractors to get work done. The biggest uh-oh was when I had a guy come out to quote me on fixing the water softener. He told me the existing one doesn’t work and tried to sell me not only a water softener, but also a tankless water heater (current tank heater is 17 years old!) I told him I needed to think about it, called him in the morning and said yes only to hours later come to my senses and call back and say no. It was ridiculously expensive and I realized the fine print of the warranties weren’t good. Lifetime warranty on the water softener but you have to pay $75 deductible for parts AND pay for labor at $80 an hour. Similar warranty on the water heater. I’m still mad at myself for ever even saying yes to this awful deal. Lesson learned to never make decisions when stressed or extremely tired.

    • April 29, 2013 at 10:10 am — Reply

      Sometimes in the moment, we get caught up. They push you because they know that if you don’t have time to think or research, then you are a better candidate for closing the deal.

  10. April 29, 2013 at 10:22 am — Reply

    So glad you got to get out of the contract, but I’m even more glad that you and your family were safe!!!

    • April 29, 2013 at 10:48 am — Reply

      Thanks Cat. I appreciate it.

  11. April 29, 2013 at 10:35 am — Reply

    That is very funny because I had the alarm salesman stop by last week. It was intriguing to think that you don’t need a landline, but the whole selling point was that you could use your smart phone to turn on lights or heat, etc. Honestly, do I need to turn on the lights from my phone? I don’t even have a smart phone, so I guess that would be another expense if I’d decided to order an alarm system. I do have to admit, I did consider it for about 2 minutes. Those guys are good and catch you at the end of the day when your defenses are down!

    • April 29, 2013 at 10:49 am — Reply

      Yes they do. They know when to catch people when they are not thinking clearly. I was in that situation. Nice work fending them off Kim!

  12. April 29, 2013 at 10:47 am — Reply

    I got a few salespeople at my old apartment complex. I didn’t like that they could just come right up to my door. I am too short to see through the peep hole so I usually didn’t answer the door if I wasn’t expecting maintenance or a package. Got a few religious folks I told straight away that I wasn’t interested. I had a few suspicious college students doing surveys. I avoid making eye contact with the salespeople who have those stands in the middle of malls…they’re always trying to lure you in.

    • April 29, 2013 at 10:50 am — Reply

      I get religious folks all of the time at my door. I have answered a few times and respectfully declined their pitch. I don’t try to push my religious views on others and I would like it if they could do the same.

  13. April 29, 2013 at 1:06 pm — Reply

    The only one that I have fallen for is the magazine sign up. The initial offer is like 10 magazines for a year each for like $10 of something crazy. I always tell myself it will be great to stay up to date on my reading and the cost is almost nothing…so why not. Then the magazines end up cluttering up the house and they automatically renew at $40 each, so it quickly becomes a bad idea.

    • April 29, 2013 at 1:28 pm — Reply

      I have never fallen for the magazine subscription sign up, but they are becoming less and less these days. If I want a magazine, I will go out and find it.

  14. April 29, 2013 at 1:40 pm — Reply

    Glad you were able to get out of your contract. We thankfully don’t get many door-to-door salesman, honestly I am surprised to hear that so many people have to still deal with them. I can’t say that a salesperson has suckered me into a bad decision, but there have definitely been times that I’ve hired people that have taken advantage of me. I ran into multiple problems hiring illustrators, not delivering work as promised and drama after drama, etc.

    • April 29, 2013 at 4:01 pm — Reply

      Yeah, hiring third party people can be like dealing with door-to-door salespeople. You have to keep on them in order to get what is promised.

  15. April 29, 2013 at 3:51 pm — Reply

    Glad to hear you got out of the contract. Some of those salesmen are good, real good at what they do and they play to our emotions and our wallet in the end. I just say, no I’m not interested before I let them talk any more. If I want something I will go find it on my own.

    • April 29, 2013 at 4:02 pm — Reply

      I employ that same method Mr. CBB! I will let them run the first pitch, then I shut it down.

  16. April 29, 2013 at 4:18 pm — Reply

    Although not door-to-door, your story made me think of the timeshare people. I got married last year and my parents got suckered into a timeshare a few years back, so they gave us a place for the honeymoon. While at the resort, we kept getting pushed to do the timeshare presentation to save on our final bill. Three hours later and going through 3 different sales pitches from 3 different people, we finally got out of it. My favorite part was telling them that my parents hated their timeshare and would be selling immediately after our honeymoon, so why would I want to buy it? I didn’t get much of a straight answer about that. I will say, however, that although I have not really bought anything in these types of situations, I am way nicer than I should be. A lot of time wasted.

    • April 29, 2013 at 6:41 pm — Reply

      I have had my fair share of timeshare pitches. I did save a lot of money by going to one and then I embarrassed them by using math to show them their timeshare was not worth the investment.

  17. April 29, 2013 at 6:06 pm — Reply

    My dog barks loud enough that most salesmen avoid our house 😉

    • April 29, 2013 at 6:41 pm — Reply

      It is nice, isn’t it?

  18. Jenny @ Frugal Guru Guide
    April 29, 2013 at 5:33 pm — Reply

    I did buy a group of books from a door-to-door educational books sales kid. I bought them because I homeschool and I thought they’d be a nice supplement. They were. 🙂 I really liked that they had accurate information on high-level topics at a low reading level. It made understanding very easy for children. I bought because I had the product in my hand to review. So I didn’t regret it at all!

    • April 29, 2013 at 6:42 pm — Reply

      That is good. At least there is one person that had a good experience with a door-to-door salesperson.

  19. April 29, 2013 at 7:08 pm — Reply

    Great story….I would have been nervous when the installers came just 10 minutes after signing the contract. Glad to hear you were able to get out of it.

    • April 29, 2013 at 8:17 pm — Reply

      That did make me nervous Jon. It put a bad taste in my mouth right from the start.

  20. April 29, 2013 at 7:54 pm — Reply

    We don’t get many door to door sales people, but I’ve learned to be careful who you ask for help at the home depot. The clerks that are dressed nicer with clipboards are inevitably trying to sell you a new closet system installed, or a new AC unit or fancy water heater. Awkward when you’re in a DIY store and clearly want to do it yourself!

    • April 29, 2013 at 8:20 pm — Reply

      Yeah, I have my eye on those people as well. Most of those people don’t actually work for Home Depot, but are usually just the factory salespeople that are there to sell you their products. It is easy to dodge them.

  21. April 29, 2013 at 7:56 pm — Reply

    I don’t usually get suckered into anything but my husband would buy a bottle of tap water for $300 if you convinced him it was something awesome.

    This reminds me of a story though. We had an alarm salesman come to the door probably 6 months ago. The guy asked to speak with my parents. ”Sorry, I’ll have to do since my parents don’t live with me at MY house”…I’m short but for God’s sake I was holding a baby, was 8 weeks postpartum and nearing on 30 years old! He totally felt like an idiot but I think he thought I just fell off the turnip truck because ”I didn’t know what I was missing out on for only $89.99/month for 24 months!” Seriously dude.

    We’re pretty lucky here and don’t get much in terms of door to door selling.

    • April 29, 2013 at 8:18 pm — Reply

      What a dumb salesman. That was an instant lost sale, but the best is that he tried to give you the pitch anyway. What a steal, only $89.99 a month? Wow! Haha, that is just horrible.

  22. Justin
    April 29, 2013 at 9:49 pm — Reply

    I don’t answer the door to salespeople. I know they’re trying to make money, but it’s not something that I want to deal with. If I want something, I’ll research it myself and find a better deal online.
    It’s also crazy that it took that long for an alarm company to respond.

    • April 29, 2013 at 10:29 pm — Reply

      I don’t really do it anymore. It was unacceptable that it took them that long to respond.

  23. April 29, 2013 at 10:13 pm — Reply

    Oh wow, that’s terrible. I’m glad you got out, but sorry you had to be almost robbed for you to break you contract. I don’t think I’ve never seen a door to door salesman. I grew up in the country and now in the city there’s no way I’d let someone I don’t know into our building.

    • April 29, 2013 at 10:30 pm — Reply

      Thanks KK. It is sad that I almost had to be robbed, but it all worked out in the end.

  24. April 30, 2013 at 4:42 am — Reply

    Sales talk can be hypnotizing, worst sometimes it’ll only get you to unexpected or unwanted expenses. Great thing that you think fast to be able to execute an escape.

    • April 30, 2013 at 10:59 am — Reply

      That it can be James. Sometimes I have to step back and slap myself back to reality.

  25. April 30, 2013 at 8:50 am — Reply

    Wow, Grayson! Great story, and good job on getting out of the contract!!! We don’t get a lot of salesman out here in the boonies, which is nice.

    • April 30, 2013 at 6:53 pm — Reply

      Thanks Laurie. Good to hear that you don’t have to deal with them.

  26. April 30, 2013 at 7:57 pm — Reply

    This sounds awful but I don’t give salesman the time of day. If I’m not seeking something out chances are I do not need it. I mean I can’t think of the last time someone convinced me to buy something that wasn’t on my mind.

    • April 30, 2013 at 10:13 pm — Reply

      I wouldn’t have given this person the time of day, but he actually was selling me something that had been on my mind for quite some time. It was my fault for not completely vetting his claims, but it all worked out in the end.

  27. Kevin
    May 2, 2013 at 3:42 pm — Reply

    I’m sitting down reading this article as I am going door to door selling pest control. The area I am in pest control is a necessity. I enjoy my job. I laugh at people when they are rude and tell me to get a real job. When I make 20k to 30k in one summer which will pay for all my college I could care less what people think. The bottom line is though I sell a product. The company I work for has an A+ with the BBB and we have a 28/30 rating on google with over 250 reviews. We have the highest retention rate in the industry at 88%. So yes there are scammers but there are good college kids who go to BYU selling door to door as well. Only a certain type of person can do the job I do. So next time there is a door to door salesman at your door the best way to get him to leave you alone. Be friendly and offer him a bottle of water. In sales it’s called taking control of the conversation. It will make our day and yours because you helped someone and probably made his/her day.

    • May 2, 2013 at 4:06 pm — Reply

      Thanks for stopping by Kevin. I think that it is great that you are doing well door-to-door selling. It is not a profession that would work well with me. I am just not a good salesman, and I admit it. I think you would agree with me that your profession is not looked at under a kind light. Most people do their best to ignore you and be rude to you. I do my best to not be rude to any salesman that approaches me. While I don’t answer my door on most occasions, that is due to the type of salesman in my neighborhood.

      If/when I am approached, I will usually let you do your pitch and then I will shut it down. If you are running with a legitimate company, then it is probably easier for you, but the scammers are the ones that bring your profession down. It was a good kid from college that sold me my alarm system, so I know what you are talking about there.

      • Kevin
        May 2, 2013 at 4:18 pm — Reply

        Totally agree, I run into other salesmen all the time. I wouldn’t buy something from a lot of them. The job I am doing is becoming harder and harder in some ways and easier in others. You can get really good deals from door to door salesmen. So I would say a good way would be to ask if they could wait while you look up some reviews. I asked a lady if she wanted to do that earlier today and after reading out reviews she ended up buying. Be a safe shopper whether buying door to door, online, or in a store. Have a wonderful day. Thanks for letting me knock your blog. And hearing my pitch.

        • May 2, 2013 at 9:50 pm — Reply

          You have some good points there Kevin. I really appreciate you jumping in and giving a different perspective. I didn’t think you were knocking my blog and didn’t mind the pitch!

  28. May 2, 2013 at 10:10 pm — Reply

    wow, I like to think that I’m immune to salesmen, especially the door to door type, but I suppose if they get you while you’re exhausted, sometimes it’s tough to resist…

    • May 2, 2013 at 11:25 pm — Reply

      They had me against the ropes. I was barely coherent, but was still able to catch them about the auto-draft.

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