Kirby / Unethical salesmanship
A teenage girl rang my doorbell on 2/12/10 at approximately 7pm. She asked to demonstrate a cleaning product by cleaning my rug for free. I told her I was not interested and tried to shut the door. As I was shutting the door, she stated "Please just let me clean your carpet. My boss won't let me go home unless I do one more carpet tonight!" I told her I didn't have any carpet. She pointed at my area rug and said "How about that area rug?" I decided it would not do any harm to let her clean the rug because she was young and seemed harmless. I believed she was by herself. I assumed she was with a local cleaning service, of which we have many in the area. I assumed it would take no more than 15-30 minutes to clean a small rug. She then told me she had a van driver. A middle aged man introduced himself as a Kirby salesman. He said "The owner is old and looking for new people to take over the business. So we are trying to prove to him that we can take over the business." They both seemed polite and professional up to this point. He collected my information and drove off, which virtually stranded the girl in my house with no transportation. The girl proceeded to unpack a lot of equipment and launched into a 1 hour presentation on a $2500 Kirby vacuum cleaner that I was not interested in buying. I kept telling her I was not interested in the vacuum and told her to stop trying to sell it to me, but she would not stop talking about the vacuum. She proceeded to clean everything in my house except the area rug, even though I asked her to finish the rug and go home. I then realized that she had lied about her offer to clean the rug and go. At 7:20pm I clearly informed her that she must finish the presentation before 7:30pm because I had plans. However, she ignored me and continued the presentation long past 7:30 even though I went into the kitchen and stopped listening to her. She even insisted on cleaning my mattress. I refused to let her into my bedroom. She said "But this won't count unless I clean the mattress." I told her to lie to her boss. She said "But he will inspect it to make sure I did it." She said he gets very angry if she does not follow his directions. I told her he was not allowed in my bedroom either. At this point I was angry and knew I was being scammed. I wanted her to leave, but I didn't want to turn a young girl out on a cold, dark, rainy night alone without transportation. I told her to call the van driver to pick her up, but she stalled by proceeding to clean the rug very slowly, one inch at a time. At approximately 8:00pm I firmly told her the presentation is over, I am done being nice, and she must immediately call the man back. It took her a while to convince him to come pick her up. He kept pressuring her to continue the presentation, even though she kept telling him that the customer is unhappy. It took him some time to arrive. Then he continued pressuring me to buy the $2500 vacuum, even though I repeatedly stated I was not interested, could not afford it and wanted him to leave immediately. I firmly told him to pack up and get out as quickly as possible because they were still in my house at 8:15pm even though I very clearly told her to leave by 7:30pm. He implied that I was being rude and should appreciate people cleaning my house for free. He twisted my words in odd ways. For example, when I said "This has gone on long enough", he responded in a sarcastic tone, "You mean the dirt in your house has gone on long enough?" I felt he was trying to provoke me. They finally left at about 8:30pm. I felt manipulated and violated because theye took advantage of my hospitality, using a young innocent looking girl as a decoy, stranded her in my home, misrepresented their intentions, wasted 1.5 hours of my time, tried to guilt and shame me into buying a product I cannot afford, and refused to leave when asked. They were in my house for 1.5 hours, but they clearly intended to stay a lot longer if I had let them.
I have since learned from friends and family that this company is legendary for using these practices in our town. A friend in California told me she had the same experience, so this is not a local issue. I have also learned that Kirby salesman target people who own Asian cars (I have a Mazda parked in the driveway) and they target people who are home alone at night (which I was). I would have called 911 if they had not started packing up the vacuum when they did. In hindsight, I should have called 911 anyway. I felt confident in my ability to handle the situation in a reasonable manner, but I have now learned my lesson about dealing with con artists. They do not care about your feelings or time if they think you are a good target. My friends and family tell me I should have called police to report a home invasion.
I certainly will never trust another door to door salesperson, no matter how young and innocent they look, which is a shame because we have many small, ethical family businesses in my area that should not suffer because of these con artists. I am also concerned about the working conditions of the teenage girl, who clearly felt uncomfortable, intimidated by her boss and apologized profusely as she was leaving. The man, who was clearly directing her actions, did not apologize and in fact appeared to resent me for standing up to him.
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