Thursday, January 8, 2009

weirdest vacuum cleaner sales experience ever

Settle in...this is a bit of a long one, but I think, worth the read.

A couple of weeks ago, I got a telemarketing call from Kirby, wanting to peddle their new carpet cleaning system in return for the chance to shampoo the carpet in two rooms of my house. Normally, when telemarketers call, I politely decline, then strongly decline, then get mad and loudly decline and ultimately hang up. However, with company coming the next week, I figured this was a good opportunity to get a stubborn stain out of our front room carpet and make the place look a bit more presentable.

The first red flag should have been when it took me a full 5 minutes to convince the lady over the phone that no, my spouse would not be here at the time of the demonstration. See, she gets paid per opinion, so she was trying valiantly to find a time when we would both be here during the week. Early evening? How about Friday? Tuesday morning? I can't tell you how many different ways I tried to explain that he works Monday thru Friday, and is gone from 9:30a-10:30p at night, at least. We were leaving on vacation four days later, so there was no weekend that worked out, and their 'special' supposedly only went thru the end of December which was the following Wednesday. Finally I just said, "Look, I have company coming on Tuesday, I'd really like to have the carpets done by Monday so they look nice for my company." Finally she conceded to come knowing only I would be home during the demonstration.

The woman who called gave me the impression that it would be she who would be coming to our house, so I had no concerns about her coming when hubby wasn't home. But when she hadn't come by the expected time, I called the company directly and found out that the salesman had experienced car problems along the way and would be about an hour late. The receptionist even added that the salesman should have called me to let me know he'd be late. "No problem," I stated, "As long as he'll clean 3 rooms instead of 2." She agreed that this was reasonable.

An hour and a half later, two men made their way into my home, an older mexican man (the boss of sorts) and a younger african american man (the salesman). They introduced themselves kindly and professionally, and then the boss man left in their vehicle to go take other salesmen to other calls. I thought this was weird, but at this point I was just rolling with it.

I stated up front that they owed me 3 rooms instead of 2 due to their lateness (I said it with a smile, to keep things light) and then the presentation began. He began by asking me all the expected questions: how did I clean my carpets now and how often, what kind of vacuum cleaner I used, etc. He asked what I did for a living and was interested to see that I did home daycare.

Within 5 minutes of his sales pitch, he said something very surprising, basically to the effect that I, as a daycare provider, should care more about my carpets and that he, as a professional in the carpet industry, could come up behind me and basically take business away from me due to cleanliness issues, that he didn't like doing it, but that he'd done it before and he'd do it again. He said all this with a smile while he was putting his vacuum together, so nonchalantly that I was questioning my own understanding of his words.

Evidently I made a face, because he said, "I see that face you're making and--"

"Well yeah," I interrupted, "I actually can't believe you just said that."

"Oh." He shut up.

"I mean, that was really pretty much threaten me that you'll pursue my clients and take away my business if I don't buy your vacuum cleaner?"

He backtracked quickly then, apologizing over and over again saying that he was so embarassed and had really stuck his foot in his mouth. He even added, "I wouldn't be surprised if you threw me out after that."

I told him that I should and he apologized again for a good 30-45 seconds before it started feeling really awkward. Finally he just said, "Well, let me just get thru this part really quick and clean your carpets, I can see that the demonstration is over." But then he kept going on and on about the Kirby system. I honestly think this kid had a short term memory disorder, because he repeated himself so often, it was embarassing. He kept asking me the same questions over an over again (how did I clean my carpets now and how often, what kind of vacuum cleaner I used, etc), and finally I told him that he'd already asked me those questions. I mean really, I can understand repeating yourself once or twice; a salesman likely sees several clients a day, and possibly forgets what part of his schtick he's already given, but I'm not kidding, 4-5 times I heard about certain features of this vacuum ver batim. 4-5 times I heard how his business was taking him to Vegas next week and to New York City the week after that. And so on and so on.

So I sat back and proceeded to watch him demonstrate how the vacuum worked for the next 25 minutes, and all the while he kept saying, "Just let me just finish this up so I can clean your carpets," over and over.

I said, "You know, you keep saying that, but then you keep talking so...I'd really just like to have the carpets done now." Dexter, as was his name, then called his office to let them know that he'd blown the demonstration big time--and to his credit, he took full blame and told them that he'd messed up and how he'd offended me--and started getting to work on the carpets. Again, I had to remind him that he was cleaning 3 rooms, not 2.

Then, the awkward moments...what was I supposed to do while he was cleaning? My kids were in the living room with us watching a movie, so I certainly couldn't go to another room. And when Dexter went into my room, I sent Sean in there to supervise.


Ok, so the end of the session was finally upon us and again, he apologized left and right and as he was, I finally asked, "Well, what did you mean by that and why would you say such a thing to someone you're trying to get business from?!" He went into how it had nothing to do with his business, but how he used to take care of his niece and nephew (or someone) and how someone else tried to take them out of his care, but he was able to use the cleanliness of his carpets and the lack thereof of the other person in question, in order to maintain the custody or care or whatever he had over the kids. He said he'd never used that in his sales pitch before. "I suggest you don't." I said flatly. He promised he wouldn't.

Then he mentioned how he and his girlfriend were having a hard time deciding to have kids because the girlfriend is career driven and wants to continue working, and wants to hire a nanny to take care of the kids. He said, "I am so so so opposed to someone foreign raising my kids; parents need to be home. I am so against having daycare raise my kids." He continued on that vein for a while as I sat there just absorbing the fact that he was again slamming my choice of work rudely in front of my face, discrediting me and my profession, completely oblivious that he was once again offending me. Sigh. Clueless.

So, the awkwardness came to a close (I thought) and he took his 3 large boxes of vacuum pieces and left. . . of course, his ride was gone, if you remember, dropping off other salesmen to other calls. I asked if his ride was coming, he assured me that it was, and we said our adieus.

Well, a good 35-40 minutes later, a daycare daddy showed up to take one of the girls home. I greeted him at the door only to notice that Dexter the handy dandy kirby vacuum salesman was still sitting on my front sidewalk waiting for his ride! Surprised, was I.

Then I noticed that our street was wet. My first thought was that it was raining and the poor fellow, obnoxious as he may be, was sitting out there getting wet. Then I realized that it wasn't rain water, but melted snow. Our neighbor across the street had been to Flagstaff earlier in the day with his kids and brought back a truckbed full of snow that he'd dumped in his front yard, allowing all the neighborhood kids to play in it. Evidently Dexter had been playing with them too. So I quickly got my kids in jackets and sent them outside to play in the snow, and mentioned to Dexter that I was surprised he was still here. He told me how it was not a problem and that he was having fun in the snow. Ok...

So another 30 minutes went by, my kids played with the neighborhood kids, I went and talked to my neighbors, etc, and the poor guy was still out there, waiting for his ride. Everyone got cold, the snow melted, and it started to rain, so everyone packed up and went inside.

Well, now what? I couldn't leave the guy standing outside in the rain, and with all his equipment no less! So I asked him if he wanted to hang out in my garage to which he gratefully accepted. I got all my kids fixed up with a movie in the house and joined him in the open garage because I wasn't going to just let him sit there--not only was he a stranger, but I knew it would look odd to my neighbors to see a strange black man sitting in my garage.

For the next 30 minutes, we sat there where I basically learned his life story. He told me at least one more time how he was going to Vegas the next week and New Years the week after that. He apologized again for offending me. And then I finally loosened up and stopped being mad at him and just started feeling sorry for him. Whatever his faults may have been, he was actually an OK guy. He showed me pictures of his girlfriend (who was coming to pick him up because the other vehicle continued to have car problems) and then provided another awkward moment when he said another completely inappropriate thing.

He said, "I was standing out on your sidewalk playing in the snow when your husband showed up. I told him I had been here cleaning the carpets and he said, OK."

I was husband? "Oh, you mean the dad picking up the daycare girl? No no, he's not my husband."

"OOOOHHHH," he said, and started to laugh. "Cuz I was thinking, 'dang, she is way to hot to be with a guy like that!'"

...Which is wrong on so many levels I can't even tell you.

1st of all: rude.

2nd of all, daycare dad, James is my friend and so is his wife, Chris--some of my best friends in fact.

3rd: inappropriate. Awkward.

Now the only reason he would say such a thing about James is because, OK, he's not exactly a guy you'd want to meet down a dark alley. He's a bit rough around the edges, hispanic, with a long beard, and many a tattoo--but he's a card-carrying member of the church, a really nice guy, and a teddy bear at that. He calls me Miss Amie even when I'm away from the kids. He's a total sweetie. But I can see how people can judge quickly from his rough exterior.

Anyway...I tried to laugh off the awkwardness and ignore the 'hot' comment.

Oy. So he had originally gotten to my house at around 1p. I think he finally left around 5:30. It was a really really bizarre experience. One I was shaking my head about for a long time afterward. To his credit, he never did try to sell me his machine--we never talked numbers. He knew he'd cooked that goose. He was too embarassed by his faux pas or he was too intimidated by my 'hotness' or something. I was just glad and relieved to finally see him go.

As he was leaving, I told him I was totally gonna blog about this strange experience--in my head I was already writing it, talking about all the inappropriate things he'd said and done, you know, NOT a positive review--and he pipes up, "Make sure to use my name! Dexter!"

All righty, Dexter. The next time Kirby calls me, I am hanging up immediately.

Although my carpets look great.


Anonymous said...

Good Night what an experience! Psycho! Don't let strangers into your house you knucklehead! Even I don't do it. When I sold iPods I always met people at a public location so that they weren't in my home. Wow, that story gave me the willies.


LIZZEE said...

Yikes... that is a strange sales experience... I cut them off at the path like you usually don't give them the time of day just for something like this.. i will stick to my guns especially after this eeek.

Jennifer (jkincolorado) said...

Hilarious and strange at the same time! I NEVER let those salespeople in my house -- I'm too skeptical. I had a lady come to our house when we first moved in and wanted to sell me something (don't remember what). She asked me several times if I had a big dog -- I kept telling her no. Nothing in my yard or at my front door (I was talking to her through the screen) would indicate we had dogs. Then I got really creeped out. It sounded like she was casing the place. Maybe there was a group of guys around the corner ready to attack after she made sure the place was safe? Don't know. It's my house, go away. I'm so glad you are safe!! Be careful!

Leah said...

That is unbelievable.

Lorie said...

At least your carpets got cleaned! Eeek!

Christine #2 said...

LOL, I don't even know what to say.

OneHappyfamily said...

You can't be serious!

Casey Lu said...

I had the same exact thing happen to my hubby and I by a Kirby salesman except for I didn't get the daycare comment but got the "HOT" comment right in front of Ehren. Sometimes I wonder where they find these people to sell the vacuums. They never shampooed our carpets either because Ehren told the guy to leave. Ever since I have strongly refused these calls or arrivals at the door to anyone selling anything. Especially when I am at home alone. So sorry that had happened. Good for you to be kind and Christ like even when he insulted you numerous times!

Modern Princess said...

That is such a crazy story! And he actually wanted you to use his name? Weird.

I once had salesman come and vacuum up my stairs, some of my furniture, and floors. It was nice not having to vacuum that week.

Mark and Jessica said...

Wow, I've had a few sales calls that left me wondering, but this is something else.

I once had a sales gal at my front door selling me a "green" cleaning product (don't remember which) and to show me how "safe" it was, she opened her bottle and licked the product off the sprayer! In front of my young kids and the neighbor kids there visiting, no less! I strongly told her to NEVER do that in front of children again. And then I asked her to leave.

Margee' said...

Lesson learned? always say "NO!" when Kirby calls.
Sorry you had to go through all of that.
Hope your carpets were cleaned!
I'm glad I live in Rural County and don't have to deal with this stuff any longer.

Anonymous said...

wow..what a story! Uh..don't let anyone in anymore! lol

Anonymous said...

That is a fantastic Kirby story. I had a salesman and a manager at my house. I tried to call my husband about the whole thing and the manager said he would give me a 10 percent discount of I didn't ask him. He said it was easier to get foregivness than it was to get permission. I tole the salesman that I was so offended that he had really think twice about ever using that line. tammi a

sir jorge said...

I haven't seen anything like this in so long. Meaning, I haven't heard of a door to door vacuum salesman in so long. Not since my parents were duped into buying one, man, things have changed over the years.

cube said...

Yikes! That's just too weird. I'm really careful about letting strangers in my house. I make sure they see my huge dog and want to leave ASAP.

wittygal said...

Wow Amie and I thought that the whole process of getting me to buy the Kirby was weird. That beats my story of How I Said NO to the Kirby Guy!! All I can remember is Let me call my manager and see what I can do, repeat 4 times. TEE-HEE!!

jinxi~ aka angi said...

Yup, it was definitely your hot-ness!!! You are just too cute that the poor Dexter aka Kirby guy was stammering, talking out his wazoo and apologetic.. what a day.. what an experience. But woot woot to the clean carpets!

john and steph said...

You can write a great story! Thanks

musikmama said...


Anonymous said...

Love the way you handle this. Been there too...only I payed a guy to have my carpets cleaned....He was rude and he hasn't been back. I now rather clean my own carpets. More pleasent that way..and cheaper.

Marlene Affeld said...

Your story is a strong reminder - do not allow strangers in your home - this situation could have been even worse. Your home is your haven - do not let anyone violate it.

Glad you handled it so well - wishing you the best.

Dexter Sherman said...

I was intimidated by your hotness :P~

Dahlene said...

eeeewwww! Very creepy! I hope that is not really the Dexter that commented just before me. You may have to go to a private blog if that is the case.

April said...

Where's the picture of Dexter? We had an awful, awful experience with a Kirby salesman. We should've spoken before the Kirby experience. I would've come clean your carpets for free! No strings attached...not even a great blogging experience...