Tuesday, May 10, 2005

A Dinner-time Conversation

doorbell rings

me: [frantically puts on shirt to answer door]

I discover two people, a teenaged boy and an older woman, with identical polo shirts and clipboards standing outside

boy: Hi, I'm [...] and this is [...] from [...] Water and we'd like you to take a survey

me: [suspicions aroused. survey? are they trying to sell me something?] Which company did you say you were from again?

boy: We're from [...] Water and ...

me: [right: they are trying to sell me something] So you're from the PUB.

boy: [look of consternation: this must not be in his script] No, we're not from the ...

me: I already have water from the PUB.

boy: This water is different.

me: In what way is your water different from the type I get from my tap?

boy: [brightens considerably: this part is evidently in his script] Why don't you step outside [pulls out what looks like a spritz bottle from pocket] and I'll show you ...

[bad mistake: I am not stepping outside my door for a random stranger]

me: Just tell me how your water is different from my water.

boy: Our water is filtered ...

me: I already have filtered water.

boy: What brand is it?

me: [I must confess this stumped me for a while, and I had to think to remember which filters we were using] I think it's called Britas?

boy: [brightens up again: this is playing right into his script, I suppose] So it's one of those that you have to fill up a jug from the tap and ...

me: [seeing where this is going] Yes, and we're very happy with it. Thank you very much, I'm really sorry, and good night.

I hate people who ask you to take a survey when all they want is your ear for a 5 minute sales pitch. I'd much rather they be honest with me. Even so, I try to play along with the pretence, and end conversations amicably. They may be disappointed in the end, but the alternative would've been:

doorbell rings

door opens

boy: We'd like you to take a survey ...

door shuts

To their credit, these two were actually well-informed, polite, and well-prepared. They evidently knew what they were selling, and they certainly knew what their competitor's products were. Where they went wrong was in timing: I question the wisdom of disturbing anyone during their dinner, since it almost guarantees a negative response, and I also personally dislike the whole "take a survey" approach (something timeshare-pushers, for example, seem to have perfected).


Tym said...

I told you about the time I screamed at two presumptuous door-to-door salesmen, right? Your story's got nothin' on that.

Haven't encountered the survey ploy yet. The only time I was asked to do a survey, it was a bona fide survey by MCYS on family-friendly employment practices, on which I was of course only too happy to give my feedback.

Fannwong! said...

think these chaps are told to come at dinner just to make sure people are at home. sighz.