One of the signs of the end of the Covid-19 pandemic was the reappearance of door-to-door sales. It had been years since anyone was dropped off to knock on doors in our neighborhood. Even the Jehovah’s Witnesses resorted to handwritten letters rather that risk being exposed to disease. To be honest, I didn’t miss them.
Suddenly, like a weed that pops up in the garden overnight, they were back. The first wave offered pest control for my home. The first man wore a branded polo shirt, and started his pitch with the standard opening, “We’ve been servicing the homes of many of your neighbors and thought you might be interested in our monthly program.” I glanced at the logo on his shirt and then back at him. In my mind, I thought, “I haven’t seen any trucks or cars with that company name on it in our neighborhood. I doubt you’ve got much business here.”
“Do you have anyone treating your home for insects? There are lots of ants in this neighborhood. We are offering a really good deal today.”
“Actually, I do.” I shared with him how much I paid for monthly pest control.
His eyes widened. “They come every month for that much? Hey, I can’t touch that. Sorry for your time.” (Oh, and by the way, I’ve never seen an ant in my house.)
The second wave was selling security systems. One gentleman pulled up to my front door on a hoverboard and tried to ring the bell. I disconnected my doorbell because someone always seemed to ring it just when I or a grandchild had laid down for a nap.
I didn’t know anyone was at the door. But my dog Samson did. He went nuts, growling and barking and baring his teeth in the window.
“All right, Sam, let’s go see who it is.” I held him by the collar as I opened the front door just a crack. The salesman’s eyes widened, he took three steps back and pleaded, “Don’t let him go!”
“Samson, sit. Stay.” I stepped out onto the front porch, leaving Sam behind the closed door.
I smirked when he said, “I’m in the neighborhood today for XYZ security systems. Have you heard of us?”
I could hear Sam growling behind the door as I said, “No, I’m not familiar with that company.”
This guy then launched into a fast-paced presentation that lost me after about fifteen seconds. He knew he didn’t have much time, so he compressed his whole pitch into about three minutes. Switching back and forth from iPad to phone, he showed me equipment, plans, surveillance videos, and pictures of neighbors who had recently installed their equipment. I didn’t recognize any of the attractive couples he claimed were my neighbors. He quoted a monthly price and asked, “I’m only in town today and tomorrow. Would you like to sign up?”
I played the, “I need to talk to my wife first” card.
“OK. I stop back tomorrow, but then I’ll be headed for some other town. Here’s my card.” With that, he segued off to the next house.
I later heard from a neighbor that a sales rep from that company had been arrested a few streets over. Turns out he got into a yelling match with a woman who called the sheriff. When they checked him out, he had warrants for his arrest in three states. LOL, maybe I need a security system because of people like him!
Next up, the tree trimming guys. “Hi, we’re in the neighborhood and see you have a few dead trees. We can take care of them for you in the next few days.” After I point out that the trees in question are on neighboring lots, not mine, they leave a card and are on their way.
I’m surprised anyone does door-to-door sales anymore. I imagine many people look at their doorbell camera and ignore whoever they see at the front door. We don’t open up to strangers anymore. We’ve heard too much about home invasions, diseases, and scams.
As much as I dislike door-to-door salespeople, I have bought their products. At the exact moment when we had decided we needed a lawn service, someone stopped by with a deal. I signed them up on the spot. We hired a crew to trim our palm trees who just happened to be in our neighborhood. We had our roof replaced by a company that was working down the street. We’ve bought magazines from teens from who knows where to earn a trip to the Bahamas. Neighbor kids selling the world’s best chocolate bars always make a few bucks at our front door.
Maybe that’s the key. Bring chocolate.